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Murray could axe 80% of workforce

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World Coal,

US coal company, Murray Energy, has warned it could lay off over 80% of its workforce in September because of weak coal markets. In a statutory notice informating its workers of potential job losses, the company said it make as many as 4400 redundant.

The move came after the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) rejected a proposed new labour deal with Murray Energy to replace a contract that expires at the end of the year. The new deal would have run through to 2021.

Along with the rest of the US coal industry, Murray Energy has been under significant pressure as US demand for coal has slumped over recent years as low-price natural gas has eaten into coal’s traditional market share.

“Coal markets and prices have generally been cut in half,” said Robert Murray, Chairman, President and CEO of Murray Energy in a recent statement.

Murray also directed his criticism at the government, claiming that the US coal industry had been “absolutely destroyed by policies of the Obama Administration”. According to data from the US Mine Safety and Health Administration, the US coal sector has lost more than 30 000 jobs since 2009.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Murray Energy is also struggling after the US$1.4 billion debt-funded acquisition of Foresight Energy last year and is currently renegotiating with its creditors. The company currently employs 5356 people, down from 8400 a year ago, with most workers based in West Virginia, Illinois and Ohio.

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