Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 27, 2014

Miner hopes markets for export coal will improve

PINEVILLE — The coal miners at Cliff’s Pinnacle Mine in Wyoming County received a thorough briefing about the WARN notice in advance of the public announcement on Wednesday, and at least one long-time coal miner said that he is optimistic that the market will rebound during the next 60 days.

“The market’s soft right now,” Al Palmer, a continuous miner operator at the Pinnacle Mine said. “They’re hoping that the market will pick back up. They are not shutting the doors of this mine.”

A spokesman for Cliff’s Natural Resources Inc., said that there are 575 employees at the Pinnacle Mine, and added that even if the temporary idling took place, 40-50 employees would remain on the job to handle maintenance and basic upkeep at the mine.

Palmer explained that Cliff’s is planning a “hot shut down,” if the market does not improve. “That way, even if the mine is idled for a short time, it can be brought back into production in a short amount of time. A ‘cold shut down’ is when a company doesn’t intend to re-open, and that isn’t what is happening here.”

U.S. Steel opened the Pinnacle mine in 1969, and Palmer joined the staff of April 28, 1980. “Cliff’s is a great company to work for,” Palmer said. “There the most pleasant people to work for.” He said that high-ranking company executives visited with each shift in the mine to inform them of what is happening with the international export coal markets.

“The market’s soft right now,” Palmer said. “The thing I would like to know is where are our politicians on all of this. This doesn’t just impact coal miners. It’s something that has an impact on everyone in the coalfields.”

Palmer expressed optimism that the market for the world’s best metallurgical coal will rebound and the Pinnacle Mine will be able to return to full production.

Cliff’s stated that if the market for met coal doesn’t improve, the mine may be idled on Aug. 25.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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