Layoffs Hit Nearly 500 Wyoming Coal Miners
Last week saw devasting news for Wyoming coal miners as the two largest coal mines in America announced massive layoffs.
Peabody Energy cut 235 miners, and Arch Coal cut 230 miners on Thursday morning. The reductions represent about 15 percent of each company’s Wyoming workforce.
The news comes in the face of an extended downturn in the coal market and amid a rising tide of environmental regulations.
The layoffs are notable as they come at what are generally reckoned to be the largest and most cost effective mines in the country. North Antelope Rochelle and Black Thunder generally mine around 100 million tons of coal annually.
Wyoming’s overall “coal economy” makes up 11 percent of Wyoming’s gross state product, according to the UW study. Coal mining contributes $1.3 billion annually, or 11.2 percent of all government revenues collected in the state.
“This isn’t a natural disaster, but it certainly is a disaster in terms of the personal lives of those miners — and beyond that what it is going to do those communities and businesses it is going to effect,” said Gov. Matt Mead, speaking at a press conference in Cheyenne.
This week’s layoffs at North Antelope Rochelle may be a precursor to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing for Peabody Energy.
The world’s largest private-sector coal company announced in a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing that bankruptcy may be its only option. The company also missed an interest payment on some of its debt and posted a $2 billion loss in 2015.
Arch Coal Inc. filed for bankruptcy in January and is in the court-supervised reorganization process.
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