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Arch Coal eliminating 213 jobs by shutting down operation in Wise, Letcher

July 21st, 2014 10:47 pm by Stephen Igo

Arch Coal eliminating 213 jobs by shutting down operation in Wise, Letcher

APPALACHIA — More coal mine closures continue to plague Southwest Virginia's economy with Monday's announcement involving Cumberland River Coal Co., a subsidiary of St. Louis, Mo.-based Arch Coal Inc.

Arch Coal announced it is idling the Cumberland River complex located in Wise County and Letcher County, Ky., consisting of two underground mining operations and related facilities. Cumberland River previously shut down two contract mines during the second quarter of last year.

Arch Coal said 213 full-time positions will be eliminated by idling Cumberland River.

"We deeply regret the need to take this action," said Arch President and CEO John Eaves in a company press release. "We thank the men and women at Cumberland River for their dedication, hard work and strong commitment to operating in a safe and responsible manner."

Eaves said the decision is a response to markets and Arch's need to remain competitive.

"With this move, we are actively responding to currently challenged metallurgical coal markets while striving to enhance our overall competitive cost position in Appalachia," he said.

"Our strategy is to increasingly shift our portfolio toward higher margin, lower cost metallurgical coal operations, while retaining our valuable reserves for when market conditions strengthen in the future. We will continue to serve our customers here and abroad with the high-level quality they have come to expect from Arch."

Cumberland River, with sales of around 1 million tons last year, sold approximately 290,000 tons the first half of this year. Sales were primarily higher-cost metallurgical grade coal. Metallurgical coal is mostly used in the steel-making process.

The decision to idle operations at Cumberland River will reduce Arch's annual 2014 net coal sales volume by a projected 200,000 tons, the company said. Arch now expects to ship between 6.3 million and 6.9 million tons of metallurgical coal this year. The company plans to provide an update regarding its full-year 2014 expectations in its second-quarter 2014 earnings report in about a week.

Cumberland River Coal is a subsidiary of Arch Coal Inc.'s Catenary Coal Holdings Inc.

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