In the News
Consol Energy reduces continuous mining and coal production, longwall idled
By KATE COIL Bluefield Daily TelegraphOAKWOOD, Va. — Consol Energy, Inc. announced Tuesday it will be reducing production and idling a portion of a Buchanan County coal mine.
The Pittsburgh-based company said it will idle the longwall mining unit and reduce the continuous mining operations to five days a week at the Buchanan Mine in Oakwood.
In a company statement, Consol reported there would be no layoffs, “however most overtime and other non-essential work may be postponed until resumption of normal operations.” A total of 778 employees work at the Buchanan mine, and the company stated it will continue to “work on safety and compliance” at the mine.
Lynn Seay, director of media relations at Consol Energy, said employees working in the longwall mining unit will be reassigned to other parts of the Buchanan mine.
“There will be no layoffs,” Seay said. “There are five continuous mining machines that are going to continue to operate. We will just reassign different groups to work those continuous mining machines while the longwall is idled. It was operated for seven days a week since 1997, and we will reducing to five days a week. The longwall was idled Tuesday and we are in the process of figuring out the schedule for the reduced operations.”
Seay said there is no date set for resuming operation of the longwall mining unit.
“We are consistently re-evaluating where the market is, and we will make our decision as the market evolves,” Seay said. “This decision is completely market-driven. Work not essential to core operations will be suspended indefinitely.”
Seay said the Buchanan mine is not the first Consol has idled due to a decreased demand for coal.
“We issued a release last week about our Blacksville No. 2 Mine in northern West Virginia,” Seay said. “The difference is that is a producer of thermal coal and Buchanan is metallurgical coal. Those are two different markets.”
“Consol Energy is responded to market conditions primarily as a result of increased inventories and decreased international demand for its metallurgical coal,” the company statement said. “It is not known how long the Buchanan longwall mining operations will be idle, however Consol Energy expects production to be reduced by approximately 295,000 tons per month on this reduced schedule.”
U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., released a statement after learning the longwall mining unit at the Virginia Buchanan Mine would be idled.
“Along with many others, I believe the Obama administration’s war on coal is real,” Griffith said. “Since February of this year, CONSOL is the third coal company in our region that has been forced to make layoffs or idle certain operations. They join Southern Coal Corporation and Alpha Natural Resources. Unfortunately this news doesn’t come as a surprise. Coal is under attack from this administration, and the rest of the world knows it. Even with exports to China, the demand for American coal is down. Buyers are now looking to Australia, Africa, and Asia for their coal because they can no longer rely on us as a dependable producer.”
Griffith said present federal policies might lead to coal industry jobs going overseas and devastate areas where coal is the major driving force of the local economy.
“While the president may continue to tout his desire to create jobs, the simple fact is that his war on coal is causing jobs to go overseas,” Griffith said. “A constituent recently told me that he was considering moving to Australia because they are paying top dollar to truck drivers for hauling coal.”
“After these coal plants are destroyed and the jobs go overseas, the ripple effect on the local economies will surely be devastating. A reduction in the use of coal raises the price of electricity and costs us jobs, both directly and indirectly. Hardworking Americans, their families, and our communities need these jobs. While today’s news is disappointing, I will continue to fight relentlessly against President Obama and all those who wage war on the coal industry,” said Griffith