James River Coal chairman and CEO Peter Socha said the changes were part of a strategy to achieve balance in the company’s mining operations.
“We are closing our highest cost and least productive underground mines. These are mines that have been most challenged by issues of productivity, geology or changes in the regulatory environment,” Socha said.
“These closures should allow us to place the best miners in the best mining conditions. We are also moving quickly to begin production from our lower- cost surface mine reserves. As previously disclosed, we have more than 40 surface mining projects in various stages of permitting and development."
A total of 88 mining positions company-wide have been eliminated through lay-offs or attrition reducing selling, general and administrative costs by about $400,000.
Both Mine 15A at the McCoy Elkhorn mine complex and Mine 74 at the Blue Diamond mine complex have been closed while production from the Bear Branch surface mine began in December 2006 and is now ramping up to full production.
James River Coal is the sixth largest coal producer in Central Appalachia and the second largest in the Illinois Basin, with six operating subsidiaries located throughout Eastern Kentucky and Southern Indiana.