PRINCETON — Gibson County Coal LLC notified local miners in a series of meetings Friday morning at the Gibson County Fairgrounds that 184 miners will be laid off Jan. 15 as the company idles coal production at the Gibson North mine.
A federally-required Worker Adjustment and Retention Notification (WARN) notice was issued to Indiana Department of Workforce Development also on Friday.
According to the notice, employment losses are expected to be permanent. The anticipated layoffs include four office employees, two surface shops/yards employees, nine prep plant workers and 169 underground employees.
The company, a subsidiary of Alliance Resource Partners LP, operates two mining facilities in Gibson County. The Gibson North complex just west of U.S. 41 north of Princeton began production in November 2000 and according to the ARLP website, had 24 million tons of coal in reserve last year.
The Gibson South complex, which opened five years ago, produced 6.9 million tons of coal in 2018, and has an exempted 60.4 million tons of reserve, according to ARLP's website.
Both mines are non-union facilities.
"A substantial portion of production from the Gibson Complex has been dedicated to supplying the international coal markets," said Joseph W. Craft III, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "The export markets have deteriorated over the last seven months and have contributed to an over-supplied domestic market. Although we anticipate coal markets will improve, predicting when a rebound may occur is difficult and led to our actions today. Until conditions improve, this production response at the Gibson North mine allows ARLP to adjust volumes from the Gibson Complex to meet current demand expectations at the lowest cost possible. While market conditions made this decision necessary, we deeply regret the impact of this action on our employees, their families and their communities."
The Gibson North mine produced this year approximately 1.7 million tons of coal through Oct. 31. According to a news release issued by the company Friday afternoon, ARLP does not expect the idling of Gibson North to have any impact on its previously announced earnings guidance, including 2019 full-year ranges for coal production of 40.1 to 40.4 million tons and coal sales volumes of 39.1 to 39.5 million tons.
In August, ARLP closed its Dotiki Mine in Webster County, Kentucky, "in order to focus on maximizing production at its lower-cost mines in the Illinois Basin," the company reported.
In ARLP's October quarterly financial report, the company reported lower coal sales volumes and prices for the third quarter of 2019. "Coal sales volumes declined 7.5% to 9.3 million tons due primarily to lower export sales from our Gibson South mine and reduced volumes from our Dotiki mine, which ceased production in the 2019 quarter," the report noted. Coal sales price realizations declined 1.4% in the 2019 quarter to $45.06 per ton sold, compared to $45.71 per ton sold during the 2018 quarter, according to the report.
In August, Peabody Indiana Services LLC reported its Somerville Central Mine in Gibson County would close in early October, eliminating 120 local mining jobs.