Massey idles KY mine

MASSEY will close the Darby No. 1 operation in Kentucky and lay off 27 workers, blaming market conditions.
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Donna Schmidt

While admitting that most details on the closure have not yet been determined, company spokesperson Jeff Gillenwater told ILN that the nation’s economy, as well as the current state of the coal market, influenced the producer’s decision.

Gillenwater confirmed 27 workers were furloughed on Monday, when the mine was officially idled.

“There are still a few [staff] there performing some work,” he said.

It is not known if the closure is permanent.

Darby No. 1, located in coal-rich Harlan County, began producing last September. It is operated by Massey subsidiary Coalgood Energy.

In April, the company temporarily laid off 300 miners and idled its Black Castle surface complex in Boone County, West Virginia.

Later that month, Massey announced it would cut production at operations as well as reduce employees’ pay and benefit packages.

Despite a significant rise in first-quarter revenue, chief executive officer Don Blankenship said at the time that market demand and pricing remained weak.

“Our metallurgical coal shipments were lower than we had anticipated in terms of both volume and price, and this was the major reason for our cash margins being lower than planned."

It is not known if Darby’s closure was part of its previously reported market condition-driven decision to realise “measurable cost improvement” that included idling several higher-cost operations as well as the renegotiation of supply contracts.

No specifics were outlined at the time the announcement was made in late April.