Arch Coal idles Cumberland River complex

In the latest blow to the Central Appalachia coal business, Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE:ACI) announced July 21 that it is idling the Cumberland River Coal Co. complex, located in Wise County, Va., and Letcher County, Ky.

Cumberland River comprises two underground operations and related facilities. The mining complex previously shuttered two contract mines during the second quarter of 2013.

In total, 213 full-time positions will be eliminated by idling Cumberland River, and the company is taking steps to provide opportunities at other Arch subsidiaries where available.

“With this move, we are actively responding to currently challenged metallurgical coal markets while striving to enhance our overall competitive cost position in Appalachia,” said Arch President and CEO John Eaves. “Our strategy is to increasingly shift our portfolio toward higher-margin, lower-cost metallurgical coal operations, while retaining our valuable reserves for when market conditions strengthen in the future. We will continue to serve our customers here and abroad with the high level of quality they have come to expect from Arch.”

“We deeply regret the need to take this action,” said Eaves. “We thank the men and women at Cumberland River for their dedication, hard work and strong commitment to operating in a safe and responsible manner.”

Cumberland River sold approximately 290,000 tons in the first half of 2014, consisting primarily of higher-cost metallurgical grade coal. The decision to idle operations at Cumberland River will reduce Arch’s annual 2014 metallurgical coal sales volumes by approximately 200,000 tons. As such, the company now expects to ship between 6.3 million and 6.9 million tons of metallurgical coal for 2014. Arch plans to provide an update regarding its full year 2014 expectations in its second quarter 2014 earnings release on July 29, 2014.

Arch announced the measure in a news release and an 8K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Cumberland River Coal is a subsidiary of Arch’s Catenary Coal Holdings.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.