Sad news reached 200 coal miners in Harlan and Letcher counties on Friday as they were laid off from their jobs.
Four operations owned by Alpha Natural Resources were shut down as a result of reorganization within the company.
“We met with employees on Friday and made this announcement,” said Alpha Natural Resources spokesperson Samantha Davidson. “We told employees we are idling four underground thermal mines in Kentucky. This decision is part of an ongoing effort to ensure the future success and growth of Alpha in a challenging time for the coal industry.”
The four mines closed were: Cloverlick No. 1 and Cloverlick No. 3, both located in Cumberland, Panther Mine, near Cumberland, and North Fork No. 4, located in Partridge, just across the Letcher County line.
“There are 200 positions being eliminated,” said Davidson. “A group of people, approximately 60, will have their positions changed or they will be offered jobs at other affiliated companies. We still have several operations in this region, so we’re not completely pulling out. We also have operations in West Virginia, Virginia, Wyoming and Pennsylvania.”
Davidson said cutting jobs is the last thing Alpha Natural Resources wanted to do, “but it is necessary at this time.”
“We announced in September we would be making changes across our organization,” said Davidson. “Since then, we have been streamlining our operations and consolidating our regions, and then initiating some organizational changes to support our operations better. The whole goal is to be able to operate more efficiently and better manage our costs. The idea is that we can ensure that we have a long and successful future for the entire company.
“When we announced in September, we said we would be eliminating approximately 1,200 positions in our across the board cuts. We said those changes would continue into the first quarter of this year. Right now, I don’t know of any other layoffs, but it’s not to say more might happen as part of this reorganization.”
Davidson said all the laid off employees will receive pay and benefits for at least 60 days.
“Again, anytime you have to send somebody home is certainly one of the hardest things we have to do,” said Davidson. “In an effort to try to secure the future of the company, these are the steps we have to take.”
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at nsizemore