Citing the move as a response to “ongoing challenges” in the Central Appalachian coal market, Alliance Resource Partners idled one of the four continuos mining units operating at its Van Lear mine.
The Van Lear mine is part of the Pontiki mining complex in Martin County and its closing will see some 72 employees lost jobs.
“Demand for coal delivered from Pontiki into the Norfolk Southern rail markets has declined significantly over the last 12 months,” said Joseph W. Craft III, president and chief operating officer, “and indications are that this lack of demand could persist through 2010.”
Craft went on to say in an announcement released last week that the decision was “deeply” regretted as to the impact it would have on employees and their families as well as the communities in which they live, adding that “without firm sales commitments at acceptable prices” the company needed to “reduce production in this market environment.”
As a result of the reduced operating level at Pontiki, coal production for the rest of this year will be about 150,000 to 200,000 tons lower than originally planned.