Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 26, 2014

Pinnacle Mine may be idled Aug. 25

PINEVILLE — Cliff’s Natural Resources Inc., announced on Wednesday that it has filed a WARN notice with the state of West Virginia and the United Mine Workers of America stating its intentions to idle the company’s Pinnacle Mine on or around Aug. 25, according to Cliff’s spokesman Ryan Thorn.

“The persistent depressed pricing and oversupply in the metallurgical coal market for the past year has put cost pressures on the business,” Cliff’s stated in a press release announcing the WARN notice. “Pricing is below the mine’s cash costs and at a point where it is becoming uneconomical to operate at these levels.”

The federal government requires businesses with 100 or more employees to issue WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act) notices when the company expects to idle a plant (or mine) in 60 days. There are about 575 coal miners working at the Pinnacle Mine.

Thorn stated that Cliff’s senior leadership team “will monitor industry and business conditions over the next two months. If market dynamics do not improve, we will temporarily idle operations at Pinnacle mine beginning on or around Aug. 25.”

Thorn stated in response to an email question that, “the exact number of impacted employees is not yet known,” Thorn stated. “If the idling should occur, it is expected that a small number of employees (40-50) would be retained for basic upkeep and maintenance of the mine. Also, should this occur, prep plant employees would also be impacted but would be retained beyond the Aug. 25, date to process any remaining raw coal for an unknown period of time.”

According to the press release, “Cliff’s considers the Pinnacle Mine a world-class operation with a strong and productive workforce of mining professionals.” Cliffs vowed to continue working on “its planned safety program and its on-going environmental measures.”

Thorn said that the world metallurgical coal market is at a nine-year low.

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