“Thermal coal markets remain weak as a result of the mild winter, coupled with low natural gas prices and reduced demand for electricity related to the economic downturn. We are taking this step to align production with committed sales,” said Patriot Executive Vice President and COO Ben Hatfield. “Additionally, during the first quarter, we idled three smaller Central Appalachian thermal coal mines that together produced about 1.2 million tons in 2011. In total, including this announcement and the previously announced closure of the Big Mountain complex, we have reduced Patriot’s annual thermal production by more than 4 million tons compared with 2011.”

The company plans to provide updated guidance for 2012, including anticipated thermal coal volume, in conjunction with its first quarter earnings announcement.