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Four more coal mines will be idled in Kentucky

World Coal,

James River Coal Co. has announced plans to idle four coal mines in eastern Kentucky, following the release of the company’s Q3 results for 2013, which saw the company announce a net loss in the quarter of US$ 25.5 million.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2013, the company reported a net loss of US$ 15 million, or US$0.43 per diluted share.

In Q3 2012, Jameson Coal announced a net loss of US$ 20.6 million and a net loss of US$ 62 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2012.

Before trading this morning (7 November), shares in the company were down 0.5%, as traders responded to reports from the company of a slide in shipments and large quarter loss.

CEO of Jameson Coal, Peter Socha, said: “The mines are doing great. They have continued to exceed our expectations for both cost control and capital control. They have done an incredible job of adjusting to the soft market conditions and the high levels of uncertainty and concern that surround the coal industry of Central Appalachia. We have made another set of painful, but necessary, production adjustments this week. This involved idling four additional mines in eastern Kentucky.”

The idling of the four mines brings the total number of coal mines idled by Jameson Coal since September to seven. US coal miners are struggling to cope with weak coal prices and tough environmental regulations imposed on the industry by the Obama administration, in what some industry professionals have dubbed ‘a war on coal’.

CEO of mining company Foresight Energy, Michael Beyer, recently said he expected to see coal mines in Central Appalachia struggle as coal supply begins to fall and US coal is increasingly sourced in the Powder River Basin and Illinois Coal Basin.

James River Coal, which also operated mines in southern West Virginia and southern Indiana, has lost almost half its market value this year with share prices down almost 50%.

However, Socha said he remained hopeful these four mines set to be idled could be reopened in 2014. “We are hopeful that these idlings can be reversed in the first half of 2014. The coal markets have stabilised during the past several weeks. Prices are still very low, but they are finally moving in a better direction. Finally, we are making progress, but have not finished our project to deleverage our balance sheet and improve our liquidity.”

In October, James River Coal said that roughly 525 employees, who had been placed on furlough, would be laid off in Q4 2013. 

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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