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Production stops at CONSOL

By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

CONSOL Energy Inc. announced in October that it would idle its Emery Mine and furlough 171 employees there beginning in December. The layoffs will impact about 135 hourly and 36 salaried workers. They were briefed on Oct. 1. CONSOL explained that the mine will be idled because its production costs are higher than regional competitors and market conditions. Dec. 17 was the last day for mining at the mine. The Nielson Construction coal haul trucks will continue to haul until the coal at the mine has been taken to the rail. Then it is expected the coal haul drivers will be sent to another coal haul, but not all of the drivers are expected to keep their jobs.

Some of the coal miners have indicated they will seek employment out of state or try to get on at other mines in Carbon and Emery counties. The Rhino Energy company is opening the former Bear Canyon mine and they will begin production next week. It is unknown at this time if any of the CONSOL miners can pick up employment at the Huntington Canyon mine.

Some of the miners who are close to retirement age have indicated they will continue with the company at one of their mines back east until they are able to retire. Many will leave homes in Emery and Ferron vacant while they pursue jobs out of state.

The layoffs are expected to have a severe impact on the communities of Ferron and Emery who rely on the income from the mine. The local stores are stopping spots for the miners on their way to and from work in Emery.

Those who are laid off can sign up for unemployment benefits to hold them over until another job in mining or other employment becomes available. The current coal market is bleak, but the company would look at reopening the mine if they could find a market for their coal.

The Emery Mine uses continuous mining machines and room-and-pillar methods while other mines use longwall techniques.

The mine also has an unsold inventory of about 250,000 tons which is about three months of production at its 1.1 million ton annual output.

"It is unfortunate that we need to take this action, since the employees at Emery Mine have worked safely for more than 400 days without a single injury, and have done everything they could to keep the operation running," said Jimmy Brock, CONSOL Energy senior vice president of operations.

Brock added that employees who are interested and can qualify will be offered the option of transferring to another company operation.

The Emery Mine is the only CONSOL coal mine east of the Mississippi.

Payroll at the mine has been around $10 million and it has been paying applicable taxes at its Utah operation of about $7 million. CONSOL will also begin idling its 84 Mine near Washington, Pa., beginning Dec. 1, laying off 60 workers.

The lay offs will have far reaching affects in Emery County and hit especially hard this close to Christmas.

Mike McCandless, economic development director said, "To be honest, we remain very optimistic. We are seeing some expansions in some of the other mines in the two county area as well as the opening of Lila and re-opening of Bear Canyon by Rhino Industries. Certainly we are going to have some folks affected in a devastating way. However, we are hoping this will be minimized by the other activities."




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