In yet another response by a major U.S. coal producer to slumping steam coal markets, CONSOL Energy (NYSE: CNX) said June 22 that it will extend the annual miners’ vacation period at its Blacksville No. 2 and Robinson Run longwall mines in northern West Virginia, resulting in 300,000 tons of deferred production.
“The current market for domestic coal remains weak due to poor economic growth and activity,” said CONSOL President Nicholas DeIuliis. “Adding to this weakness is the continuing, ongoing, and increasing pressure from the EPA that creates, at a minimum, significant uncertainty for our power generation customers relating to the continued use of coal. CONSOL Energy is compelled in the near term to operationally adjust to these realities.”
The Blacksville No. 2 mine vacation period will be extended for two weeks. CONSOL said it will conduct two conveyor belt rehabilitation projects during that time. The Robinson Run extension will be one week and during that time the company will be working to maintain the mine in ready state.
To date in 2012, Blacksville No. 2 has produced 1.27 million tons of coal utilizing a single longwall and three continuous mining units. Robinson Run has produced 2.4 million tons in that same time period using one longwall and four continuous mining units. Both produce coal out of the high-sulfur Pittsburgh No. 8 coal seam. Annual expenditures and capital investment at the two locations in 2011 totaled more than $394m, CONSOL noted.
Blacksville No. 2 has 585 total employees and Robinson Run has 621 employees; all were officially briefed on the situation on June 22.
CONSOL is a Pittsburgh-based producer of coal and natural gas. It has 12 bituminous coal mining complexes in four states and reports proven and probable coal reserves of 4.5 billion tons. The company’s premium Appalachian coals are sold worldwide to electricity generators and steelmakers.