Alpha laying off nearly 900 at W.Va. mines


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Bankrupt coal producer Alpha Natural Resources announced Monday it plans to lay off 831 miners and dozens more support staff at eight underground mines and two processing plants in southern West Virginia as a result of the industry’s downturn.

Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha said it has sent 60-day layoff warning notices to Boone and Raleigh counties.

The announcement includes 468 miners and 40 support staff at five underground mines at Marfork Coal Co. in Naoma and Whitesville, and 363 miners and 15 support staff at three underground mine at Elk Run Coal operations in Sylvester and near Whitesville.

The notice said the layoffs will occur around March 25.

“It is a direct result of an oversupply of coal in the marketplace and dramatically reduced demand, which has driven prices down to unsustainable levels, particularly for central Appalachia coal,” Alpha said.

The move marks the latest blow to an industry that has seen U.S. coal production fall to its lowest level in nearly 30 years.

Last July, Alpha announced the impending layoffs of 292 workers in Virginia’s Wise County and Kentucky’s Letcher County. The following month, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In late December, Alpha notified 160 workers in Virginia and West Virginia that they were being laid off.

Alpha also has mining operations in Pennsylvania and Wyoming.

In October, bankrupt Patriot Coal said it expected the sale of its assets to result in the permanent layoffs of more than 2,000 workers at its West Virginia operations.

Earlier this month, St. Louis-based Arch Coal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

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