LOGAN, W.Va. — Three underground coal mines and two preparation plants in Logan and Mingo counties have been idled by Kentucky based company Blackhawk Mining and its subsidiaries.
Blackhawk announced Tuesday afternoon saying the affected operations are the Washington Underground Mine, Muddy Bridge Underground Mine, Buffalo Underground Mine, Fanco Preparation Plant and Loadout in Logan County and Mingo 1 Preparation Plant and Mingo 2 Scaggs Loadout in Mingo County.
“It’s sad and it’s disturbing,” Bill Raney, the President of the West Virginia Coal Association told MetroNews of his reaction to the news.
“It’s just a matter that the coal market is what it is. It’s an international marketplace.”
Raney said it’s simply the reduction in supply that led to the closings, that Blackhawk said will result in 342 individuals losing positions.
“Nobody is bothered by it more than the folks at Blackhawk,” he said. “That’s the last thing in the world they wanted to do. When the price of the product doesn’t meet what it costs to produce then you just can’t keep producing it.”
Raney added that coal companies are not making as much as years past because of all the metallurgical coal and steel coming from China and around Europe. He said that coal plants have become a target to shutdown so steam coal is not what it ought to be or used to be.
“You combine all of that and think about all the coal on the ground at the mines as well as the ports on the east coasts and the gulf then all of that complicates everything,” Raney said. “With so much coal available now, it’s just the price is down.”
The operations idled primarily produced High Vol A metallurgical coal for sale to domestic and international coke makers and steel producers, officials said, producing approximately 1.3mm tons of coal in 2018.
Blackhawk Mining said in a release that while Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notices were sent to 342 employees, each affected employee will be encouraged to apply for open positions elsewhere within the company.
Permanent workforce reductions associated with the WARN notice are expected in early December.
The company stated recent weakness in global coal markets, and the corresponding drop in prices to three-year lows is the reason for its decision.
Blackhawk is also idling operations at the No. 8 Underground Mine, a contract mine in Mingo County.