Another massive round of layoffs hit the region Thursday, when Arch Coal announced they would be furloughing 500 employees.
The news of the layoffs was confirmed by Bill Bissett with the Kentucky Coal Association early Thursday. Bissett said more information about the mine closures would be released later Thursday.
In a letter addressed to and provided by Judge-Executive R.D. “Doc” Marshall, the president of Arch Coal outlined some of the facilities to be closed and the reasons for their closure.
“Due to the continuing decline for steam coal in the Central Appalachian market, ICG Hazard LLC will idle its entire Rowdy Gap mine,” said William G. Feltner, president and general manager of ICG Hazard. Approximately 93 people are employed at the Rowdy Gap mine.
According to Feltner, the company will also idle the entire Flint Ridge complex in Breathitt County, which employs 150 people, and ICG Knott county will idle its entire Knott County and Raven complexes, which employ roughly 250 more.
“The idling of these sites will result in workforce reductions among the administrative staff serving those sites,” said Feltner. “As a result, we will be closing the entire Prestonsburg office.”
Feltner says that no “bumping rights” will exist at the mines, and that these terminations are expected to be permanent.
“It’s sad that we’re seeing a time that major companies such as Arch Coal are having to do this reduction, which is not temporary, but permanent,” Marshall said. “Many families from Floyd County into Knott County that work in these mines will be affected.”
It is unknown what effect the layoffs will have on ancillary industry and business in the region.
Marshall said while he hates that Arch Coal is having to make these drastic reductions, he is still happy to have a partner in ICG Hazard, which donated the land for the new Harold sewer project.
This is the second major reduction in the coal industry this month. Earlier this month, Alpha Natural Resources announced it would eliminate 436 jobs in Kentucky, while giving 286 of those workers the opportunity to relocate to open positions in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia.
Kim Link, a media representative with Arch Coal, did not immediately return calls seeking further comment.