Friday, May 22, 2015

Murray Energy to lay off 1,800 coal workers; Alpha Natural Resources shutting W.Va. mine with 439

Murray Energy today will lay off about 1,800 workers—21 percent of its workforce—mostly at coal mines in West Virginia and Ohio, Timothy Puko and John Miller report for The Wall Street Journal. A spokesperson said the company made the decision on Wednesday "to make much bigger cuts than it had previously been considering because of growing concerns about the slumping market for thermal coal."

UPDATE, May 22: Alpha Natural Resources announced it would close its underground Rockspring Development Camp Creek mine in Wayne County, West Virginia, "which will mean the loss of 439 jobs," Susan Cameron reports for the Bristol Herald Courier. Alpha said the decision was "based on the mine operator's current assessment of market conditions."

Coal fuels less than 40 percent of the country's electric power, down from 49 percent in 2007, Puko and Miller note. Coal prices have dropped more than 15 percent in the past year "and are permanently stuck below those of natural gas, which is suddenly plentiful and inexpensive thanks to shale drilling." New environmental rules have led many utilities to phase out coal as a source of power, with many power companies "expected to retire substantial coal-fired generation capacity from the grid, the Energy Information Administration says."

Murray Energy operates 13 active mines at 12 mining complexes located in Northern Appalachia, the Illinois Basin and the Uintah Basin in Utah, according to the Murray Energy Corporation. Here is a map of Murray Energy operations outside of Utah.

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