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Consol to idle US Bailey coal mine for two weeks after coronavirus exposure


Largest mine in Northern Appalachia to be idled for two weeks

Enlow Fork and Harvey mines to continue production

Houston — US coal producer Consol Energy will idle its Bailey thermal coal mine in western Pennsylvania for two weeks after two miners tested positive for the coronavirus, the company said Monday.

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Both miners have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, the company said, adding it will "perform a precautionary deep cleaning of the facilities while attempting to determine if any other employees were at risk from exposure."

The company's Enlow Fork and Harvey mines, which are part of the same mining complex as Bailey, will remain open, along with the central preparation plant, the company said.

Bailey is the largest mine in the Northern Appalachia coal region, and produced 12.2 million st in 2019, according to US Mine Safety and Health Administration data.

The Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based company has faced challenges over the last few weeks related to the coronavirus.

On March 19, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close, which included coal mining and metal ore mining. However, a Consol Energy official said on the following day that the company had been "working tirelessly with all state [representatives] and the governor on the issue." On March 20, Wolf added coal mining and metal ore mining to the exemption list of essential businesses that can continue operations.

Then on March 24, India, Consol's largest export customer, announced a complete three-week lockdown. In February, the company said of the 8 million st of coal it shipped overseas in 2019, almost 4 million st went to India.

Consol was one of three US coal companies that announced it was idling production Monday.

Alliance Resource Partners said it was temporarily ceasing coal production at all of its Illinois Basin mines through April 15. President and CEO Joe Craft said its 2020 sales volume will be about 25% below the 37.8 million st projected in late January.

Coronado Global Resources said it was idling all of its US coal operations but will continue shipments to its customers from an existing stockpile of about 750,000 st. Coronado's Buchanan mine, which is the largest coal mine in Central Appalachia, produced 4.94 million st of met coal in 2019, according to MSHA data.