Arch idles Cumberland River complex

ARCH Coal is idling the Cumberland River Coal complex in Wise and Letcher counties, Virginia, cutting 213 full-time positions, citing market pressures.

Noel Dyson

The complex comprises two underground operations and related facilities.

Two contract mines in the complex were shuttered in the second quarter of 2013.

Arch president and CEO John Eaves said the company was “actively responding to currently challenged metallurgical coal markets while striving to enhance our overall competitive cost position in Appalachia”

“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,” he said.

“We deeply regret the need to take this action.”

Arch is trying to find positions within its other operations for the 213 workers whose jobs will go with the Cumberland River closure.

Cumberland River sold about 290,000 short tons in the first half of 2014, consisting primarily of higher cost metallurgical grade coal.

Idling operations at Cumberland River will reduce Arch’s annual 2014 metallurgical coal sales volumes by about 200,000t.

The company expects to ship 6.3-6.9 million short tons of metallurgical coal for 2014 as a result.