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Patriot Coal warns of potential layoffs

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Here’s the news announced this morning by Patriot Coal:

Patriot Coal Corporation today issued WARN Act notices at its Wells mining complex located near Wharton, West Virginia, and also at its Corridor G mining complex located near Danville, West Virginia.  The Wells complex, which includes the Black Stallion Mine, CC10 Mine, and Wells preparation plant, employs 450 people and produced 1.4 million tons of metallurgical coal in 2013.  The Corridor G complex, which includes the Hobet 21 Mine and Beth Station preparation plant, employs 397 people and produced 2.3 million tons of thermal coal in 2013.

Pursuant to the WARN Act, the Company today gave 60-day notice of potential layoffs to all employees that could be affected. 

“These actions are an unfortunate but necessary step to align Patriot’s production with expected sales,” said Patriot President and Chief Executive Officer Bennett K. Hatfield.  “Both metallurgical and thermal coal markets continue to be challenging, with pricing at levels well below production costs at many Central Appalachian mines.  Despite the savings we achieved in our reorganization, the production costs of these mines exceed today’s depressed prices, necessitating these actions.”

During the 60 day period, mine management at both locations will be evaluating operations and staffing to assess their ability to produce coal at a cost below projected sales prices.  The scope of the anticipated downsizing will be communicated at the conclusion of that process.