ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Patriot Coal announced plans Wednesday to lay off miners at two large operations in Boone County.

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

“What our WARN notice specifies is that we believe that at least 50 people are likely to be laid off (or) furloughed at each of those locations,” Patriot president and CEO Ben Hatfield said Wednesday on MetroNews “Talkline.”

Hatfield said the metallurgical and thermal coal markets continue to be challenging. There are nearly 850 workers at the two complexes but Hatfield said it would be “highly unlikely” that everyone would lose their jobs. He said for now it would probably be at least 100.

“We’re working hard, frankly, to minimize the number (of layoffs),” he said. “We’re struggling with mines at those locations that are simply operating at cost levels that exceed the prices that we can get at the marketplace. They are literally consuming cash.”

The Wells complex, which employs 450 workers, 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.

Boone County Commissioner Mickey Brown called the announcement “devastating news.”

“Our budget is down and we lost $900,000 last year and coal severance is half of what it was. So this just adds on to more of our problems,” Brown said.

Patriot’s Hatfield said he can see metallurgical coal making a comeback by 2015 with slow recovery but there are more tough days ahead for thermal coal because of EPA regulations.

Hatfield said he knows how much the residents of the southern coalfields and their communities depend on the coal industry.

“The impact is certainly unsettling and not a message that we like to deliver,” he said.

Brown has his fingers crossed Patriot can streamline without major personnel reductions: “Hopefully it’s not as many and it’s temporary.”

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  • Coal?

    Another step in the right direction!

    End our great state's dependence on coal now!!

  • Staci

    View that can be both - career eliminating and defined as insanity.

  • DWL

    Ok Jethro, lets lower the cost of coal. We will start by eliminating the UMWA take and dues out of the over all cost. Then we'll lower the miner's pay seeing how they no longer have the UMWA dues to pay. The miners can then sign up for m0r0n-care, thus eliminating the union demands. They can rely on FICA and their own 401 retirement like the rest. Then lets change the State to a Right-To-Work state and toss all the other organized crime syndicates out - like the teamsters,, etc. Then lets make the m0r0n's Gestapo EPA back off on their "war" efforts.

    Care to wager how much the economics of coal will change? Drastically and I'm all for it.

  • The bookman

    Big Deal,

    That's certainly a philosophy, a tax and spend philosophy no less, but a philosophy. At some point, unless you have an economy that produces a product, improves a product through manufacturing or innovation, or provides a service that the public desires and can afford, your model collapses. Using government to fund the private sector through pork and social giveaways is not a sustainable economic model. You stated the 3rd district receives $5 for every $1 it returns in taxes. What happens when $5 is too much to send to the 3rd?

    You live in the third, and I don't. So you get to decide, and know my vote won't negate the one you cast for Rahall. It matters to me because I travel the 3rd, and I know what coal means to communities like Man, Delbarton, Wharton, Mullens, Whitesville, Oceana....and the list goes on and on. The people financially supporting Rahall want coal shut down based on what they believe about CO2 and global warming. The people financially supporting Jenkins believe coal plays a major role in our electricity needs, and any climate impact is negligible at best. You want to trust Rahall to stand by coal, that's your decision. I couldn't, in good conscience, cast that vote.

  • P B and J

    I'm sure she will still get their votes. Some people would rather die then vote against what they've voted for all their lives

  • Big Deal

    Thanks for you concern. Although we disagree on several things, I have mucho respect for the Book. Book can usually make his/her point using sound reasoning and common sense without sounding like a clown like the majority of others on these boards.

  • Big Deal

    Ojeda is a great candidate. He's the only one that sounds like a West Virginian. Unfortunately, I don't see him winning the primary. And unfortunately, voices of reason usually get lost in DC. At this point, it is clear to me that Rahall can be the biggest asset to this district. While you may not like him, his party, Obama, the EPA, etc., he brings home as much "bacon" as any of our DC politicians. I know what you're thinking, it's sad that a congressman can be judged on the amount of money he brings home to his district. Let's not be naive though, most politicians at all levels don't make a difference in most of their constituents lives. I for one don't sit around waiting on my congressman to make my life better. Only I can do that. But if my congressman brings home funding for a project in my area, that money can create jobs, provide services, and help growth. The world's a wash of money, the more in my area, the better chance I have to get my hands on it.

  • wow

    spot on DWL. Now will the sheep ever wake up, or will they always vote Dumacrat ?

  • wow

    Big Deal,
    winning an argument against The Bookman is a long shot. His post are normally solid and add in that you are spouting opinion and he is giving voting records and facts makes your position look weak.

  • JL


    Agreed. The miners and their union daddy's are to blame.

  • The bookman

    The Koch Brothers are involved because it is a vulnerable seat. Period. They don't know Jenkins, and most likely they don't care. For them it is about turning the D to an R. Why do you cling so tightly to Rahall? Why not reach out to Ojeda if you are so certain Jenkins is bought and paid for?

  • Big Deal

    Hook, line, and sinker...I caught me a Bookman! So predictable.

    If the Koch Brothers were smart, they would take the millions they will spend trying to buy the 3rd district and pay the salaries of the miners that are being laid off. That would win some votes! Sadly, this campaign is not about WV or the people living here. It's about putting someone in DC that will vote for their agenda.

  • Shadow

    The western coal is being exported to China and India. Japan is converting from atomic to coal and will be a big importer in the future.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Well said, Big Deal. I wish we could move beyond this so-called "war", but for many there always has to be a "someone" or "something" out to get "us".

  • Jethro

    There is no war on coal. Western coal is booming.
    The writing is on the wall and only fools will fail to read. Here coal is on the downside and it is not coming back.
    Hoppys handwringing and hyperbole about both operations shutting down completely were on cue as expected.
    Hatfield, according to WV Public Radio cited economic reasons for met and steam coal, not wars or EPA

  • Richard

    Democrats are to blame for the war on coal. Senator joe manchin told school children in Wirt county on earth day they deserver renewable energy. Ole jumping joe has said we need to pay for all of that carbon. The loss of these jobs are on the hands of joe and nick they need to go as they have proven they are not for West Virginia.

  • The bookman

    No, I don't think Rahall is actively trying to hurt the coal industry. But, when no one was looking, he voted for a carbon tax as a revenue stream in a budget proposal. And this wasn't 25 years ago, it was last year. He has supported Obama with his votes, supported Nancy Pelosi with his votes, and they have supported him with donations to his campaign. His support financially is coming from those who would end coal tomorrow, and you want to hang the Koch Brothers around Jenkin's neck? Rahall's time has come to walk softly into the night. In a legislative career spanning 5 decades, he is still a follower, not a leader. His district deserves better. Is Jenkins the answer? Who knows? But we know after 38 years, Rahall isn't the answer.

  • Big Deal

    Nick Rahall is in the minority in the United States House of Representitives! Please quit confusing that with the Director of the EPA or The President of the United States. He is not against coal. He is not trying to destroy coal. He cannot do any more than any Republican congressman to help or hurt the coal industry. He does not like green eggs and ham.

    The coal industry is in decline and will continue to decline, no matter who is in congress and even the presidency. Obama, the EPA, and cheaper alternatives (like the Marcellus Shale in WV) are the biggest catalyst of this decline. Two of those things will change in the next couple years. One will not. It is inevitable...the coal industry will have ups and downs, but it has seen its peak and there is very little that anyone can do about that.

  • P B and J

    Pat yourselves on the back UMWA... You just cost your "brother" a job.

  • Silas Lynch

    HANG CECIL------- metaphorically, of course.

  • DWL

    Who do you thank? The m0r0n and his EPA Gestapo. Lets not forget the UMWA that donated MILLION$ to his election & re-election. Didn't they order their troops (miners) to vote for the m0r0n? I do believe they did!) Then we have Carpetbagger Jay & No-Show Joe and Nick Rahall. Aren't they all liberals, socialists, leftists, democrats? I do believe they are! Hmmm. I guess that means they voted themselves out of jobs. Go cry in your beer.

  • TCeer

    What a terrible shame. Our coal industry is collapsing and I'll bet these brave miners who risk life and limb every day to feed their families will still vote for Nicky Joe.

  • Bill

    Vote democrat AGAIN !! Cecil

  • David

    Thank you Democratic Party !

    Remember this when Natalie Tennant asks for your vote , she is anti coal.....