Coal company to close Greene County mine next year

Coal producer Alpha Natural Resources said today it will close its Emerald mine in Greene County next year, citing weak market conditions, uncertain geology and a challenging regulatory environment.

"Coal markets remained extremely challenging in the second quarter,” said Kevin Crutchfield, chairman and CEO, noting softcoal prices and increased competition from imports, primarily from Colombia.

The closure of Emerald mine “is expected to reduce the company's Pittsburgh seam longwall volumes after 2015,” the company said in its earnings release this morning.

Emerald produces thermal coal and has been “nearing the end of its mineable reserve life,” spokesman Steve Hawkins said.

About 500 employees work at the Emerald mine. Alpha said it has been communicating with the workforce and union about winding down production.

“We’re pretty confident that there will be opportunities for many displaced employees to fill openings at the Cumberland longwall mine in Greene County, where we have substantial coal reserves remaining,” Mr. Hawkins said.

The announcement comes after the Bristol, Va.-based company reported that it plans to lay off 1,100 workers at its operations in West Virginia by mid-October, again citing dismal markets and federal regulation.

Stephanie Ritenbaugh: or 412-263-4910 First Published August 6, 2014 12:00 AM

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