Robert Murray’s big Powhatan No. 6 coal mine in Ohio headed to closure

Coal operator Robert Murray’s Ohio Valley Coal sent an Oct. 11 letter to the Ohio Office of Workforce Development saying there would be layoffs in December at its Powhatan No. 6 mine as the mine winds down to closure “due to exhaustion of reserves.”

The company said senior workers at this United Mine Workers of America-represented operation will have “bumping” rights to take the jobs of junior workers as the mine’s workforce is cut in increments. UMWA President Cecil Roberts has been notified of these layoffs, the company added. No specific time for mine closure is given in the Oct. 11 letter. A June 1 announcement from Ohio Valley Coal said the mine would close late this year.

This is an historic mine closure for several reasons, including that this is Robert “Bob” Murray’s first mine, with subsequent expansion over the years adding to the number of mines he controls under his Murray Energy banner. The mine has been around for years. It predates the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration website’s data field for when the mine was first registered with that agency. This is a longwall-equipped producer of high-sulfur coal out of the Pittsburgh seam. It is located in Belmont County, Ohio.

Said the Murray Energy website: “Our company was founded in 1988 by Mr. Robert E. Murray, our Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, who mortgaged everything he owned to the purchase a single continuous mining operation, The Ohio Valley Coal Company’s Powhatan No. 6 Mine, which at the time had an annual output of approximately 1.2 million tons per year and was being closed.”

MSHA data shows that Powhatan No. 6 has had a descending production path in the first three quarters of this year, with output of 2.7 million tons in the nine-month period, but only 476,936 tons of that in the third quarter. MSHA puts the mine’s production at 4.8 million tons in 2015.

Murray Energy also has the longwall-equipped, much-newer Century longwall mine in the Pittsburgh seam in Ohio that is located near Powhatan No. 6. MSHA data shows that the Century mine, listed under American Energy, produced 3.6 million tons in the first three quarters of this year, with consistent production quarter-to-quarter during that period, and 5.2 million tons in all of 2015.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.