OAKLAND CITY — The Somerville Central Mine will be closing in October according to a letter provided to Gibson County Commissioner Steve Bottoms and Oakland City Mayor Hugh Wirth.
The letter, composed by Peabody President Marc Hathhorn, states the company will permanently close the entire Somerville Central Mine facility due to "uneconomical business conditions."
The mine, located in Oakland City, is one of multiple Gibson County mines owned by Peabody Indiana Services, LLC. The company owns mines around the United States and in Australia.
The closing will lay off approximately 121 employees on Oct. 4, 2019.
The positions impacted include one clerk maintenance; one electrician I, 21 end dump drivers, three fuelers, five greasers/oilers, one lead mechanic, one lead operator dragline, one lead prep plant operator, one lead welder/mechanic, eight mechanics I, two mechanic III, 40 dozer/mobile equipment operators; 12 dragline operators; two shovel/overburden operators; one parts runner; four prep plant operator; four shooters; two senior lead operator shovel/overburden; one senior lead prep plant operator; one senior lead shooter; one senior lead welder/mechanic; one senior safety technician; one senior technician engineering; and six welders/mechanics.
Hathhorn states in the letter that the company plans to offer "comparable" positions at other Peabody locations to many current employees whose positions are being eliminated.
"More specific information regarding the opportunity to transfer to another facility will be shared with employees at a later date," Hathhorn states, "and may include the opportunity to perform the same or similar job at Peabody's Wild Board Mine, Francisco Mine, Bear Run Mine or Wildcat Hills Mine."
After Oct. 4 there will be a period of mine reclamation. The letter states it may be possible a limited number of employees will be asked to remain with Peabody to complete this work at the site. If so, those individuals will be provided with an amended notice of plant closing.
Charlene Murdock, director of corporate communications and community relations for Peabody, released a statement that said all employees have been notified.
"While we’ve made the difficult decision to suspend production at our Somerville Mine, we expect no impacts to our Illinois Basin production targets based on transitioning contracts to other Peabody operations," Murdock said. "We also are working to minimize employee impacts and anticipate offering job opportunities to many of those affected."
The Somerville Mine opened in 2000 and Murdock said it sold approximately two million tons of coal to customers in 2018 and has been operating at a reduced rate in 2019.
The mine will continue to safely produce coal to meet customer needs over the next 60 days, she said.
"We recognize the hardship this closure will cause to employees and families and are working with impacted employees to identify comparable employment opportunities at four locations in Indiana and Illinois," she said. "Outplacement assistance and counseling will be available for employees who do not seek an alternate opportunity with Peabody."