The mines’ preparation plants will continue operating to complete the processing of the coal already mined and in inventory. A limited number of employees will remain at each site to operate the preparation plants and, once coal processing is complete, to perform ongoing equipment maintenance and provide ongoing security for the sites during the idle period.

“These layoffs are particularly unfortunate because our employees have worked very hard to keep these mines competitive in the face of daunting market conditions,” said Walt Scheller, CEO, Walter Energy, noting that the Brule mine completed 2013 without a reportable safety incident. Scheller said that the coal reserves remain valuable assets to the company.

Coal production from Wolverine, which produces mid-volatile hard coking coal, was 1.6 million metric tons (mt) in 2013, while the Brazion mines produced approximately 1.9 million metric tons of low-vol PCI and 100,000 metric tons of hard coking coal. As of the end of last year, Walter Energy had approximately 1.1 million mt of coal in inventory in Canada.