WHY would ANY coal miner/coal plant worker BELIEVE Obama is on their side? That Obama would “improve their lives” if he was elected POTUS?
Consol idling W.Va. mine, laying off 318 workers
June 29, 2012
By Thomas Olson
Consol Energy Inc. will idle its Fola coal mining operation near Bickmore in central West Virginia on Aug. 30 because of poor market demand and regulatory pressures.
The shutdown will affect 318 employees, the Cecil-based company said on Friday. The workers, who are nonunion, include surface and underground miners, and reclamation and office staffers.
Consol expects 2012 production to be reduced by 800,000 tons. So far this year, the Fola complex has produced more than 1 million tons of coal.
“The domestic market for coal remains soft, due to weak economic growth and activity,” said President Nicolas DeIuliss in a statement. He also cited the “escalating costs and uncertainty” generated by pending regulations from the Environment Protection Agency as a reason for idling the mine operation.
“Consol over the years has been disciplined in adjusting its production to the market,” said Thomas Hoffman, energy communications consultant in Upper St. Clair.
“It’s a very, very challenging market right now for coal producers. Consol is not unique to idling production,” said Hoffman. “Patriot Coal, Peabody, Alpha Natural Resources and others all have either closed or idled mines within the last few months.”
Earlier this year, Consol idled two mines for several months — in West Virginia and in southwest Virginia — because of weak demand for steam coal for power generation and for metallurgical coal for steel making.
DeIuliss said there is “significant uncertainty” about whether power companies will continue to use central Appalachian coal in their plants.
For more than a decade, coal accounted for 48 percent of the feedstock for American power generation, Hoffman said. The percentage this year has declined to about 38 percent, partly because of utilities’ switch to cheaper natural gas.
Further, the price of coal used for power generation has dropped by more than 30 percent from a year ago, Hoffman said.