“Not only was it our best safety year,” Blankenship said, “but it was our best financial year since 2000, and the first of several very promising years in a strong market.”
Blankenship addressed the unpredictability of transportation and limited available railroad capacity as the main challenges ahead, while noting the overall shortage of skilled miners and high turnover the industry in Central Appalachia was currently experiencing.
Nevertheless, he was positive about Massey’s retainment efforts for their 5300-strong workforce, a number that has increased by nearly 900 since late 2003. “We continue to devote significant effort to retaining our miners,” he said, and cited increased wages and improved benefits as parts of their strategy for retaining a quality workforce.
Also mentioned were the company’s plans to minimise operational expenses. “Overall, costs for supplies, repairs, fuel and new equipment continue to escalate. While we anticipate some of these costs will moderate in the coming year, we continue to identify creative ways to manage them.”
Blankenship also said Massey’s location was an important factor in its success.
“Years of strategic planning have positioned us to win as we remain the market leader in Central Appalachia and in the US metallurgical coal market,” while continuing to be the lowest-cost coal producer in the region, Blankenship said in closing.
“Years of strategic capital spending have prepared Massey with the equipment, the facilities and reserves to take advantage of this new marketplace opportunity.”
Blankenship, as well as Bobby R Inman, were re-elected to the Board of Directors during the meeting; they will serve three-year terms expiring in 2008.