MILL CREEK, W.Va. — WARN notices have been issued to every employee of a coal mine and preparation plant in Randolph County.
Approximately 170 individuals received the notice from the Carter Roag Coal Company, a subsidiary of United Coal Company, which announced its intent to close Monday.
There were no stipulations on what it would take to re-hire the soon-to-be laid-off miners, but Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor said the county will attempt to look at what other resources may be available.
“After receiving the notice, I contacted our Economic Development Authority Director Robbie Morse to have him contact the resources we work with and work through with WorkForce West Virginia to try to see what we as a County Commission can do and what he can do as part of the Development Authority to help find other employment for these miners,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the biggest loss for everybody will be the 170 unemployed people.
“Having 173 unemployed folks in either Randolph, Upshur, or Barbour Counties will be a big hit for the county,” he said.
With 60 days notice, both facilities would be idled on Christmas Day, with company representatives indicating there would be no intention of reopening unless market conditions improve.
Carter Roag Coal Company operated as a subsidiary of UCC since 2004, according to the company’s website, and mined 600,000 tons of mid- to high-volatile metallurgical Sewell coal annually from one deep mine, Pleasant Hill, located near Mill Creek. It is the only operating underground mine in the county.
Taylor said the county budget won’t take as big of a hit as other coal-reliant counties would because they’ve been adjusting the budget accordingly for years.
“Our coal severance taxes have steadily declined over the last few years,” he said. “We got some monies from the Carter Roag operation. However, we used it sparingly.”
Taylor said because of the low return of coal severance dollars, the county had been planning ahead. There aren’t any county jobs are reliant on coal severance dollars.
“Randolph County, with only one active mine, we didn’t have a huge amount in coal severance,” he said. “For example, we paid no employee salaries out of coal severance. Everything we do with the employees in the county is paid out of the general revenue account.”
The Star Bridge preparation facility is located near Helvetia and is a 500-ton-per-hour operation.
The company sites a depressed steel market and an overproduction of coal worldwide as reasons for the shutdown.