VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – The US steam-making thermal coal market is on a downward trajectory from which it will likely not recover, as cheaper natural gas prices prompt power generators to shutter coal-fired capacity.
This is evidenced in privately held Armstrong Energy announcing on Thursday that its affiliate has issued Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notices to about 110 workers at the Equality surface mine in Ohio County, Kentucky, and some of its workers at the Armstrong preparation and dock facility.
The company advised that it would idle the Equality mine, which employs 61 people, and that it will let 49 employees go at the processing facility, which processes coal mined from several Armstrong mining operations.
Armstrong said these actions were required by market overproduction and a sustained depression in demand for high sulphur thermal coal produced by the Equality surface mine. Armstrong expects that these layoffs will occur during the 14-day period between December 8 and December 22 and that the layoffs will be permanent.
Meanwhile, parent company Armstrong Energy has reached an agreement, in principle, with the holders of about $156-million in debt, representing about 78% of the outstanding principal amount of the company's senior secured notes due in 2019, as the company considers a strategic transaction that will provide for a comprehensive balance sheet restructuring. The company is a producer and marketer of coal in the Illinois basin, in Western Kentucky.