Officials said June 2 that the decision was tied to continued coal market weakness, and that federally mandated Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) letters have already been issued to the affected individuals.

Rhino did not indicate which specific mines would be idled, or for how long. A request for more information was not immediately returned.

The producer noted that the final number of Rhino employees that may ultimately be impacted by the slices in production and payroll will be based on future market conditions for met and steam coal in the CAPP region.

“We are taking difficult actions that are necessary due to the persistent weakness in the coal markets,” said Joe Funk, president and CEO of Rhino’s general partner.

“Demand for Central Appalachia steam coal has fallen to unprecedented levels as utilities choose low-priced natural gas for electricity generation and other coal-fired capacity is shuttered due to governmental regulations. Met coal prices remain at depressed levels due to persistent worldwide oversupply and weak demand from China. Future market conditions will determine the duration that our Central Appalachia operations remain idle.”

At the end of last year, Rhino operated three mining complexes in CAPP, one underground and three surface, including Tug River, Rob Fork and Deane.