PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Consol Energy, in a move to shift focus toward natural gas production, will sell five of its longwall coal mines in West Virginia to a subsidiary of Murray Energy Corporation based in St. Clairsville, Ohio.

The $3.5 billion sale was announced Monday morning.

The Consol mines that will be sold are McElroy Mine, Shoemaker Mine, Robinson Run Mine, Loveridge Mine and Blacksville No. 2 Mine.  The mines combined to produce 28.5 million tons of coal in 2012.

“The sale of these five mines, assets that have long contributed to America’s economic strength and our company’s legacy, was a very difficult decision for our team,” said J. Brett Harvey, Consol’s chairman and CEO.

Consol’s River and Dock Operations are also included in the transaction.

During a conference call with shareholders Monday, Harvey and other company officials said Consol would reinvest in its natural gas operations in the Mountain State. “We have a sizeable Marcellus shale footprint in West Virginia which will take a significant amount of labor and capital to develop,” said Harvey.

Nick Deluliis, Consol Energy president, said the move is necessary to generate growth for the company.  “Natural gas is a growth outlet for the company,” said Deluliis on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“That thermal coal segment, we don’t see it going away. We see those mines operating for 20 years plus out into the future,” he said of the sites Murray is buying. “But the prospects for growth, in terms of creating incremental production, or pricing expansion beyond the stable, profitable cash flows we see there, is limited compared to something like natural gas.”

Senate President Jeff Kessler said Consol’s move is a sign of changing times. “Energy production in this state, which has been so reliant on coal, is transitioning into the gas,” Kessler said.

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts said the sale was “no great surprise” and would change nothing for union works at the five coal mines set to be sold.  “Our collective bargaining agreement does not go away with this transaction and our members remain covered by its provisions,” Roberts said.

Consol officials said the goal was to close the deal with Murray Energy, which is subject to a number of conditions, before the end of the year.

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  • Charleston,WV

    Maybe China will come in and purchase our natural resources with due interest of borrowed monies.

    • Coalwiz

      One thing keeping them from doing it........the uncertainty of the EPA.

      Why buy an asset that they can't enjoy?

      • Dr. Sarcasm

        They will invade, Obama's legacy will be the disfunctioning of the military. He had made it a point to completely undermind the military in any way possible.

        • Mister Wu

          Ha ha ha. Invade?

          We are already here.

  • blugldmn

    Coal was West Virginia....!

    This is what happens when you vote against Obama twice...

  • Wife of A Coal Miner

    Maybe all the coal miners should stop spending money and see how that helps Obama and his side kicks. As of today I will be putting less money in this sorry economy.
    Maybe even stop working and get on food stamps, work the system. Thats what happens when you start messing with jobs Obama, oh and where is the new job for my husband when you and your EPA buddies get all the mines closed??? Obama your a joke!

  • Mtneer001

    Hopefully West Virginia can get away from coal and increase production in natural gas.

    I wish the state could get more natural gas refineries. That is where the real money is at.

  • ratman

    Most of you are a bunch of idiots. Coal is what made this state and we need coal to continue to get by. All of you Obummer followers don't realize what damage he has done and will continue to do to both to ou county and ou state. Wake up people before it is too late. I have seen areas that are reclaimed after the coal is mined and these areas are twice as nice as the were to begin with. I can not believe you bums can talk bad about mines when these people are the hardest working inour state.what a bunch of worthless sell outs.

  • cutty77

    Alot pf people have said for the last 20 some years that Coal is dead. Coal isn't going anywhere,remember the rest of The World will take all it can get. By The Time The Gov. gets done with Natural Gas,Coal will be back on The Front Burner.lol

  • wvman75

    Obama and the progressive democrats are ruining this nation and devastating our state. Mountaineers need to wake up.

  • Slick

    Bob Murray = Trouble

    Look at his history !

  • anonymous

    I work in the mining industry and from what I've seen, we're going to hit a boom next year. This should actually help bring the price of coal down locally. Also, if we have as bad of a winter as predicted, that means the colder it gets, the more coal is burned and we get into our stockpile/reserves more which should help to increase production and labor - meaning more jobs. With a lower priced coal, there should be alot of competition and a big year for sales. Take that to the bank..it's not as bad as alot ppl think.

    • Coalwiz

      Cheaper coal is not the answer to our problems. Higher priced fuels (both Gas and Coal) is the answer to our problems.

    • Todd

      Cold or not we can't use coal at power plants any longer. Coal is done thanks to the EPA.

  • rick

    Another "Patriotic Capitolist" company that sees the future in WV. Coal companies have made their money and are now on the way out. Gas will do the same. Massey...our big non union company sold out and now Consol. All fossil fuels will some day be depleted and what will remain for future generations if we don't start investing in new technology to gradually over the next several years wean ourselves off of fossil fuels to other forms of energy.

    • Scott

      I believe we've invested a few trillion the last five years don't see much return though.I work for Consol and they combined their gas and coal operations and didn't get the bang they thought they would with stocks and shareholders.Gas is a short future coal will play out longer.Coal is also much cheaper you will learn in the future.The war on coal is the only reason gas is now able to compete.

  • Coalwiz

    CONSOL is a diversified company. They are making a play here to sell assets that are currently producing coal in order for someome else to fund their decision to develop their gas assets.

    At the end of the day this means that both the coal assets will be producing (by Murray) and the gas assets will be producing (by CONSOL.)

    This looks like a win - win for the state to me. I wish all the doomsayers would step back a second and try to logically think through their narcissism sometimes.

    • Hillbilly

      Consol sees profit in gas, and declining profits in coal.

    • Frank Boso

      good, sensible post...........

  • Smooth Criminal

    Big Coal hasn't done anything to WV that the Big Union didn't allow. Sometimes you have to stand up to Big Coal before it happens not after it is finished!

  • Dale

    Yes, WV must immediately create a new tax on newly produced natural gas to supplement WV's less fortunate citizens. Current sources, welfare, food stamps, chips is not enough.

    • umwa4life

      Dale and polarbear f... you guys turn your electric off p.o.s

  • polarbear

    Coal is done in WV. Gas will lead the way. Lets hope the WV govt dosent let big gas companys do to the state what big coal has already done.
    Here is to the future w/o big coal.

    • umwa4life

      Get a grip on reality..gas is going to be a big dissapointment ...fracking is complely destroying our land and our state. Our water is getting polluted. from the brine water, it is discusting. Coal is cheaper more realiable has bigger reserves and adds to make about 90% of the States econmy....also all of the gas people are from out of state...coalmimers are born and bread right here in the local área...nuf said!!

      • MCorp0317

        You may want to check your facts about who's working for the energy companies and the service companies that actually do the fracing, cementing and wireline jobs for said companies. I know first hand that most of them are West Virginians and not from out of state. Just look at how many are in Jane Lew, Weston and Buckhannon. You may want to get facts before you speak again.

      • Doug

        The EPA's own report said that there was no proof that fracking harmed the enviroment.

      • Hillbilly

        What polluted and killed all the fish in Dunkard creek awhile back? Mine water, not drilling waste water. I haven't heard of any water getting polluted from drilling, just investigations up in PA that are not pointing at fracking as the problem yet. Coal has bigger reserves? Think again, pal.. if you don't think massive mountaintop removal mines do more damage than drilling then you have listened to Cecil Roberts way too long. nuf said alright.

        • Hillboy

          The bad water came out of a mine but their were some chemical characteristics of it that weren't typical of your usual mine water. It seems likely that some gas well wastewater was being dumped into an inactive mine and was infiltrating into an active mine. The report was inconclusive about what the original source of the water was but the coal company was responsible for its discharge regardless of other factors.

          • NorthernWVman

            the bad part of that theory was it was prior to the gas boom in the area

      • wvrefugee

        Running the water and pollution??????? You must be smoking the coal smoke???? You're joking, right?????

  • Rob Shumate

    Consol is turning it's back on the union miner's who made this company what it is today. This will turnout to be another battle to keep benefits for the retirees who worked their whole lives for Consol.

    • Art in Ohio

      It's the current President that caused this decision to be made.

      • WVSon

        Pretty sure they said the reason for the sale was “But the prospects for growth, in terms of creating incremental production, or pricing expansion beyond the stable, profitable cash flows we see there, is limited compared to something like natural gas.”
        If it makes you feel better to blame President Obama rather than acknowledging an economic choice made by a company regarding future profits, go ahead.

      • Concerned

        You're right. Coal mines never did these types of things before Obama. Of course, I was born yesterday.

        • hailey

          You may not have been born yesterday, but if you do not think this administration is an ememy of coal you have your one day old head burried in the sand .

          • Concerned

            Maybe so. But blaming Obama for a coal company selling out is doing the coal miners a major disservice. Blame needs to be assigned to those who actually do the deeds. Allowing the coal companies, or any company off the hook by blaming the president, is in my opinion misguided. I believe the entire Peabody fiasco was nothing more than water testing to see what could be gotten away with. And now I am concerned that my dad who worked 30 plus in a consol mine might have his benefits compromised. These companies are 100% about profits. Retired miners are not profitable. Hope I'm wrong and that the next president will fix everything that Obama supposedly broke, history does not support this conclusion though.

    • Rick S.

      Is Consol turning its back on the miners, or is Consol reacting to the government's war on coal and getting out of coal while they still can?

      Unfortunately, you are probably right about the retirees' benefits.

      • Bill

        Obama dun took mah guns, now he gone take mah coal too!