ST. LOUIS, MO — Patriot Coal announced plans Wednesday for what could be major layoffs at two large operations in southern West Virginia.

Patriot issued 60-day WARN Act notices for its Wells mining complex near Wharton and its Corridor G mining complex near Danville, both in Boone County.

“These actions are an unfortunate but necessary step to align Patriot’s production with expected sales,” said Patriot President and Chief Executive Officer Bennett K. Hatfield aid in a prepared release. “Both metallurgical and thermal coal markets continue to be challenging, with pricing at levels well below production costs at many Central Appalachian mines. Despite the savings we achieved in our reorganization, the production costs of these mines exceed today’s depressed prices, necessitating these actions.”

The Wells complex employs 450 people. It includes the Black Stallion Mine, CC10 Mine and Wells preparation plant. The Corridor G complex has 450 workers and includes the Hobet 21 Mine and Beth Station preparation plant.

Patriot did not say Wednesday how many miners would be laid off. It said it would use the next 60 days to evaluate the operations and staffing. “The scope of the anticipated downsizing will be communicated at the conclusion of that process,” the company’s news release said.

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  • a miner

    I'm a coal miner that works for patriot coal. I'm under ground and I have to deal with MSHA inspectors . For those that don't know they are the "inspectors " that work for the feds . Most of these "inspectors" are now programmed to kill the industry. These laws are written so that it basically the "inspectors" can interpret these laws however they wish . So if a " inspector" is having a bad day he can walk into a mine write a huge violation , that may not even have a legal leg to stand on, cost the company a lot of production loss and money all to have it thrown out in litigation. This happens all to often . To be a MSHA "inspector" you don't even have to have ever set foot in a coal mine. . Those are the ones that are also slowly killing this industry. When you ask these guys " what will you do when you kill coal mining? " they reply " I'll inspect bridges" . The point I'm trying to make is that all this wasted money drives the cost to mine coal up. Also as I said I work for patriot coal when they took over our company we had a great cost per ton average . But with the "guidance" of these wizards our averages have plummeted. We now have 3 times as many employees twice as many salary guys as we should. And the head of HR runs the company . A general manager that knows nothing about coal mining . The point I'm trying to make in all this is .A company can't stay in business with government red tape . It needs to stop. As far as Patriot goes and the current layoffs go. ( and I feel for the guys these are my brothers and sisters here) Patriot is ran by idiots . Patriot is destined to fail . They didn't get what they wanted from the judge when they restructured . So now the just want to go down like the Titanic. It was the plan when the company was formed.

  • DWL

    The m0r0n and his EPA Gestapo make it more expensive every day. Remind me how much it cost for him to jet off to Asia and for his EPA Gestapo queen to jet around the country on her "good will" earth week bash?

  • worried

    is this the Hobet 21 job???

    • RD


  • Hillbilly

    The price will go up . My propane went up 30% this year . I guess they are going to have to give the food stamp people more than the 39% increase they just got .

  • Worm

    Natural gas beats the price point. It's that simple. Gas is going to be tough competition for the coal industry. I'm sorry for the families that have lost their jobs.

    • Aaron

      If natural gas replaces coal completely, how do you plan for shortages or outages? It's not like you can stockpile enough gas to run a plant for 3-4 months like you can with coal.

      Seems to me that if gas is the primary source, all an eco-terrorist has to do to interrupt production is blow up a line. What then?

      • Info

        There are multiple underground storage facilities for excess natural gas. It's common to use more gas in the cold winter months than is currently produced. The storage fields are used to make up for excess demand. Natural gas is the future and is relatively clean burning. It our only viable option.

        • The bookman

          Multiple storage facilities? Like one for every power station? Natural Gas is an important fuel for our future, but in terms of stable, low cost, and yes, clean electricity generation, nothing out there beats coal. With infrastructure improvements and greater supply, NG can play a larger role in our future. The spot price fluctuations from this past winter alone indicate the inability of supply to keep pace with demand.

          • The bookman

            I didn't say cleaner, I said clean. Technological advances have dramatically reduced the emissions from coal fired power plants. The fact that other methods of generation produce less emissions doesn't make coal a dirty or filthy fuel choice, just less clean.

          • Mason County Contrarian

            Please explain how coal is cleaner, in your view.

    • The bookman

      If Natural Gas is the replacement fuel for coal as an electricity generation source, don't expect that cheap price to remain. Gas is plentiful and in search of a market. When it arrives, and it will, the value as a commodity will increase. Historically NG prices are very volatile, so expect the markets to take that into consideration as well, pricing above average so as to not get burnt by the low swings.

      And finally, when the greens strike coal's death knell, they will come for gas. The environmental movement is anti fossil fuels, not just anti coal. When coal is out of the picture as a significant player, Gas will be the new coal.

      • cutty77

        Last winter it got so cold Nat Gas couldn't move fast enough. So lets cut this Nat. Gas BS right now. Its not The Be all End All you Gassers think.

  • george

    No wonder Rahall is running scared....

  • TB

    Amazing that we keep voting ourselves to eventual unemployment. When you vote for the person that promises you something for free, keep in mind that it is not free and eventually has a cost - normally jobs.

  • arp

    While we justifiably despise what Obama has done to the coal industry (and jobs), I think this one is more about coal PRICES. You can't continue to mine coal unless you're at least breaking even on production and, according to Hatfield's statement, they are not.

    • The bookman

      Then ask some pertinent questions. Why is the cost per ton of production so high and why is demand depressed, pushing prices too low to justify that production?

      Regulation answers both questions.

      • Aaron

        Demand is partially depressed because Australian Coal is back online after flooding in the Queensland mines took that supply off the market for the better part of 2 years.

        Jason412 partially hit on this when he claimed coal jobs were up under Obama but what he did not realize is that coal exports were at 20 year highs in 2012. With Australian coal increasing the supply, demand will decline as the market searches for a new equilibrium price.

        Pulling lawfully issued permits, restricting end use via carbon caps and creating uncertainty through an excessive executive agency doesn't help but it is not the only reason for a depressed market.

        • The bookman

          But those are market forces that are outside of our control. Exports were the short term solution that delayed some of the economic impact of this administration's pressure on the coal industry. The demand picture will continue to grow in Asia and the Aussies will be the benefactor as they are much better positioned to deliver the coal than we are given our logistics. And as our market shrinks, and the price continues to fall, the precipitous collapse of coal as an economic engine will commence. And it will not be due to Australia. It will be of our own government's doing. But at least our carbon footprint will be smaller, and that matters, I think?

          • Aaron

            I do not disagree with any of that. In fact, I think the only thing that kept us from losing these jobs, as well as others was the increase in exports. Without that avenue, the situation is only going to get worse.

      • ViennaGuy


  • Abbagoochie

    When will wv learn and stop voting for the democrats or as i call them the-party-of-the-devil? Will it be after ALL jobs here are gone and everybody is on the national nipple? Its what the democrats want. This party hates everybody and hates everything,and anything good for the country is bad for the democrats but anything bad for the country is good for the democrats.

    • DWL

      Has "hell frozen over?" That the only way they would stop voting liberals and democrat tickets 'cause the union boss told me too!

  • Roger

    Is it time yet to just hit the reset button for southern WV?

  • Chris

    Thanks Nick Jo Rahall and Cecil Roberts for supporting Obama.