SIDNEY, Ky. – In an area already facing economical struggles, more bad news came Thursday for the coal industry.
Alpha Natural Resources announced more than 100 miners have been notified of layoffs.
Company spokesman Steve Hawkins said 117 employees at two Alpha subsidiaries were issued a 60-day WARN notice.
Hawkins said 114 of those employees work at Sidney Coal in Pike County, Ky.
Three were employed at Maxxim Shared Services, a support office for Sidney Coal.
Maxxim’s company address is listed as Norton, Virginia.
The layoffs are expected to take effect November 7.
Sidney Coal is the last mine to remain open in a group of mines, which at one time consisted of numerous mines including Clean Energy, Rockhouse Energy, Freedom Energy, Taylor Fork and Johns Creek Energy.
Hawkins stated the layoffs could actually occur in a two week window, which means workers could be without a job two weeks before or after the November 7 date.
Employees are facing the layoffs due to the current state of the industry, which has struggled due to the declining market and new Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
According to the Mine Health and Safety Administration (MSHA) website, 128 people were employed by Sidney Coal as of June 2016.
Hawkins said he was unaware as to which workers the layoff will effect.
The following information obtained from the US Energy Information Administration releases statistics for the mining industry nationwide for the past 10 years.
The number of new and reactivated coal mines that began production in 2013 fell to the lowest level in at least the past 10 years.
The addition of 103 mines in 2013 came as 271 mines were idled or closed, resulting in a 14% decline in the total number of producing coal mines from 2012 to 2013.
The 2013 total was 397 fewer coal mines than in 2008, when coal production was at its highest.
Although preliminary 2014 data on coal production from the Mine Safety and Health Administration indicate a slight increase both in production and in new and reactivated mines for 2014, these levels will still be below previous levels.
The declining number of new mines reflects reduced investment in the coal industry, strong competition from natural gas, stagnant electricity demand, a weak coal export market, and regulatory and permitting challenges.
The lower number of new mines and the closing of less-efficient mines resulted in 2013 having the lowest number of active coal mines on record.
Kendra Mahon is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-235-4242 ext 2278.