Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Virginia State News

June 21, 2012

Coal official says Arch Coal plans layoffs in Ky.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Arch Coal will lay off more than 500 miners in the struggling coalfields of eastern Kentucky, a coal industry executive said Thursday.

Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, said he was informed of the layoffs by an Arch executive.

Arch spokeswoman Kim Link said the company planned a late-afternoon announcement, but she would not comment further. The St. Louis-based company describes itself on its website as one of the world’s top five coal producers.

Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble said he also was told of the layoffs by an Arch executive. The layoffs will affect about 50 miners in the southeastern Kentucky county, Noble said.

He said the county has lost nearly one-third of its mining jobs in the last year.

“This is just a start, I think,” he said in a telephone interview.

Noble said the layoffs are a result of utilities switching to alternative fuels.

The share of U.S. electricity that comes from coal is forecast to fall below 40 percent for the year — the lowest level since the government began collecting this data in 1949. Four years ago, it was 50 percent. By the end of this decade, it is likely to be near 30 percent.

Bissett said layoffs will result in “an incredibly difficult time” for the affected miners and their families.

“Our hearts go out to them and the hope is that new mining activities will occur in the future to allow these folks a good opportunity in eastern Kentucky,” he said.

 

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