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American Resources' coal miners return to work after protest blocking train

Coal miners blocking a train delivering coal to the Pike County mine in Kentucky agreed to return to work Jan. 15.

The employees blocking the train claimed they were due two weeks of back pay. Quest Energy Inc., the owner of the mine, said a group of co-workers went to the protest site. They convinced the miners to clear the way for a blocked shipment of metallurgical coal coming from a processing and logistics hub owned by Quest's parent company, American Resources Corp.

"We will always fight for our workers as they fight for our company, and we will continue to do everything we can to provide jobs in eastern Kentucky and beyond," American Resources Chairman and CEO Mark Jensen said in a statement. "We operate in a challenging and dynamic environment with ever-increasing regulations that, unfortunately, further burden companies trying to provide jobs."

The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader reported that the company paid the wages the miners had demanded.

American Resources grew in recent years by buying distressed mining operations and now owns 45 mines in Central Appalachia. The company's strategy is to purchase such assets and then restart operations at a lower cost structure.

"As such, there is never a straight line in our model given the distressed nature of our industry and our growth model, but with our overall team we are confident in providing future employment in the region," Jensen said.

The company recently agreed to sell some of its idled Perry County, Ky., coal assets for $1 million in cash and equipment.