Coal producer Alpha Natural Resources said Tuesday it was cutting production by 16 million tons and eliminating 1,200 jobs companywide, laying off 400 workers immediately by closing mines in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The mine shutdowns start Tuesday, while the rest of the layoffs will be completed by the end of the first quarter after Alpha fulfills current sales obligations, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Crutchfield said. In all, the layoffs amount to nearly a tenth of Alpha's 13,000-person workforce.
Alpha said it was closing four mines in West Virginia, three in Virginia and one in Pennsylvania. They are a mix of deep and surface mines, and all are non-union operations.
Crutchfield said the shutdowns and layoffs are a necessary part of ensuring Alpha survives in what has become a difficult U.S. market, where coal companies face a dual challenge: Power plants are shifting to cheap, abundant natural gas, while companies like his face "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal."