PINEVILLE, W.Va. — Cliffs Natural Resources has issued a notice of preliminary plans to idle the Pinnacle Mine in Wyoming County at the end of August impacting 450 miners.

Wyoming County Commissioner Silas Mullins tells MetroNews he received a call from a Cliffs official Wednesday morning letting him know of the plans.

“The coal market is down and the steel market is down,” Mullins said.

Cliffs’ operation near Pineville produces metallurgical coal, used to make steel. It issued the required 60-day WARN notice Wednesday.

Cliffs spokesman Ryan Thorn said the decision is being driven by market conditions but the company is hopeful things will change.

“If something happens in the next 60 days we won’t have to take this action,” Thorn said.

Commissioner Mullins said mine is the largest in Wyoming County and the biggest severance tax producer.

“We’re going to lose a great deal of money from that,” the commissioner said. “Right now we are in an analytical mode to see what kind of impact there’s going to be on the county.”

He said if the layoffs go through it will probably hurt young miners the most.

“They buy a new car, buy a new house, a trailer, SUV or whatever, and as long as they were working everything’s fine. Now with these job losses it’s just going to have a trickle down effect,” Mullins said.

In a prepared statement from Cliffs, the company said it hopes the layoffs don’t happen but if they do the hope is they will only be temporary.

“Cliffs considers the Pinnacle Mine a world-class operation with a strong and productive workforce of mining professionals,” the statement said. “We understand the potential impact this could have on employees and will work with them during this uncertain time. Cliffs’ commitment to the health and safety of our employees and the environment remains top priority. We will continue to work on planned safety program and on-going environmental measures.”

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