Arch Coal is to idle the Cumberland River Coal Co. mining complex with the loss of 213 jobs.
Metallurgical coal prices remain soft…
The move comes as prices for the mine’s metallurgical coal on the global market remain soft: in its June Resources and Energy Quarterly, the Australian Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics (BREE) forecast average benchmark contract prices for high-quality metallurgical coal would settle at US$124/t this year. At that level, many metallurgical coal mines are unprofitable with producers in North America and Australia closing mines as a result, said BREE.
The Cumberland mining complex stretches across the Virginia and Kentucky state border and sold about 290,000 short t of coal in H1 2014 from two underground operations. The decision to idle the mine will reduce Arch Coal’s 2014 metallurgical coal sales by about 200,000 short t, the company said in a statement, with forecast shipments now in the 6.3 – 6.9 million t range.
… prompting a shift to lower-cost coal operations
The closure marks a continuing shift in strategy from Arch Coal away from higher-cost operations to focus on lower-cost metallurgical coal mines, said John Eaves, president and CEO of Arch Coal in a statement: "with this move, we are actively responding to currently challenged metallurgical coal markets, while striving to enhance our overall competitive cost position in Appalachia," Eaves said.
It is another blow to coal mining in the Appalachia region, where the higher-cost of mining has seen the region hardest hit by the global freefall in prices. Recent research from SNL found that Central and Southern Appalachia had suffered a 13.8% and 15.7% drop in coal industry employment in Q1 of this year compared to the same period in 2013.
Written by Jonathan Rowland.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/mining/22072014/world-coal-arch-coal-to-idle-cumberland-river-coal-mine-coal1109/