Murray, who said “adverse mining conditions” were the cause of the staff reduction, told the Southern Illinoisan the situation was temporary and that the workers would return “when mining conditions improve”.
The layoffs affect those at the three-and-a-half-year-old Millennium Portal. The Galatia mine began producing in 1980.
Murray said American Energy had contributed to increased employment in the area.
“In the process, employment has been increased from 400 to nearly 1000. While we regret having to make a temporary layoff due to unforeseen adverse mining conditions in the Millennium Portal, the total number of people involved is still only one third of those that we have actually hired during the past seven years and only 17 percent of the workforce,” Murray told the newspaper.
The Millennium Portal, a $US46 million endeavor, opened in mid-2001 to increase reserve access.