Alpha Natural Resources will cut its coal production by 15 percent and immediately lay off about 160 mineworkers while idling eight mines in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Alpha Natural Resources becomes the latest in a series of coal mining companies to trim output and jobs this year as domestic coal-fired power plants shut down in the face of cheap new U.S. natural gas supplies, a weak economy, and environmental regulations. The company ranks as America’s second-largest coal producer by revenue and third-largest by production.
The company said that while its cuts would affect 400 mineworkers, most would be given jobs that are currently vacant or done by contractors. However Alpha said an additional 800 jobs would be lost by early next year as it seeks to cut overhead by $150 million a year.
Alpha, which has 130 mines and 13,100 employees, still relies primarily on the U.S. market, where utilities have been closing aging coal plants and switching to shale gas made available by new drilling techniques, including hydraulic fracturing.