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Alpha issues layoff notice to 1,100 workers in W. Virginia

Keywords: Tags  Alpha Natural Resources, WARN notice, layoffs, metallurgical coal, Paul Vining, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — Alpha Natural Resources Inc. has issued a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice to 1,100 workers at 11 coal mines in West Virginia due to low coal prices and Environmental Protection Agency regulations that the company said are driving the shutdown of coal-fired power plants.

"Our operations managers have to take a hard and serious examination whether they can sustain a number of mines and related operations by finding additional cost reductions and whether the business will be there to support them in the year ahead," president Paul Vining said in a statement Aug. 1.

"Over the next two months they will continue to run forecasts for expected customer commitments for next year, along with anticipated pricing, and a determination will be made whether the overall economics make sense, given the cost structures at these operations and the business we expect to secure," he said.

The affected mines produced 4.2 million tons of metallurgical and thermal coal during the first half of the year.

Metallurgical coal prices have fallen more than 20 percent in less than a year, Alpha said, while new EPA regulations are "at least partly responsible" for more than 360 coal-fired power plants switching to natural gas.

The cutbacks are expected to take effect by mid-October, the Bristol, Va.-based coal producer said.

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