PINEVILLE – Hundreds of miners and mine employees could be without a job in 60 days, says Cliffs Natural Resources which oversees the Pinnacle mine in Pineville.
Miners coming off their shift Wednesday afternoon are concerned about their future.
“Just go to unemployment and try to find a job ‘til you can get back to work; feed your family, it's all you can do,” says miner Fred Ayers.
There seems to be little hope for workers coming out of the darkness.
Pinnacle’s parent company issued a 60-day notice of what could happen, “There's tentative plans to potentially put the pinnacle mine on a temporary idle,” says mine spokesperson Ryan Thorn.
Workers learned in a morning meeting they could be without a job in two months, and that's a harsh reality for seasoned miners with years underground.
“Shocked,” says Ayers, “I mean the coal industry is doing terrible. It's bad.”
Cliffs cites poor coal prices as the reason for the potential layoffs.
“It comes to the point where our costing just isn't sufficient,” adds Thorn, “And pricing for met coal right now is under our cost to mine it.”
The pinnacle mine pulled 2.8 million tons of coal out of the ground last year, and if this idle goes into effect it could last for more than six months, effectively cutting that number in half.
If market conditions don't improve the mine would be idled in late August. The only thing stopping that from happening is a jump in the cost of coal.
Ayers can only hope things improve in the market or he’ll be faced with unemployment.
“Hope the coal prices pick up and we can get back to work, you know? It's terrible.”
The mine employs nearly 600 workers, and at least 400 of those would be laid off.