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Blackhawk to idle West Virginia met coal mine


Roughly 164 workers to lose jobs around Nov. 12

Layoffs due to 'current adverse market conditions'

Houston — Blackhawk Mining and its subsidiaries are to idle the Black Oak underground metallurgical coal mine and nearby operations in Boone County, West Virginia, which will result in 164 people losing their jobs on Nov. 12, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice filed with WorkForce West Virginia and the state's Department of Commerce.

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The company is idling the mine, the Matewan tunnel and the overland conveyor from Black Oak to the Matewan tunnel, in Wharton, West Virginia, "due to adverse market conditions," according to the notice filed Sept. 16.

The layoffs, which are expected to be permanent, are estimated to take place on or within two weeks after Nov. 12.

Blackhawk subsidiary Black Oak Mining, LLC, said the idling will result in 128 people losing their jobs, including 100 Black Oak employees represented by the United Mine Workers of America. The unionized employees, which have bumping rights, include 23 roof bolt operators, 16 electricians, 13 shuttle car operators and 12 utility workers.

Rockwell Mining issued a WARN notice for the Black Oak mine, the Matewan tunnel and the environmental/reclamation crew, which will affect 29 non-represented employees. Rock Lick Prep Plant also issued a WARN notice for seven individuals that make up the environment/reclamation crew, including six UMWA represented employees.

The Black Oak mine was Blackhawk's 10th largest mine in the second quarter of 2020, producing 73,851 st of mostly high volatile met coal, down from 91,279 st in opening three month of the year, but up from 62,093 st in the year-ago quarter, according to data from the US Mine Safety and Health Administration. In 2019, Black Oak produced 330,492 st of coal, down from 333,792 st in the prior year.

It was the first WARN notice for a West Virginia coal mine since June 24, when Contura Energy subsidiaries Spartan Mining and Maxxim Shared Services said the Ruby Energy mine, also known as the Kielty mine, would be idled Aug. 21, which resulted in the termination of 177 employees.