5:04 p.m. Update:
Company spokeswoman Kim Link told Patch there were no reductions in Creve Coeur. Four positions in a corporate office in Kentucky were eliminated and that office is closing.
4:24 p.m. Update:
Arch Coal has released the following statement:
"We deeply value our people, and the decision to reduce personnel was made only after exhaustively reviewing other options and exploring opportunities to avoid this measure," said John W. Eaves, Arch's president and chief executive officer. "We sincerely regret the impact this announcement will have on our employees and their families as well as on the local communities where we operate. This decision was difficult but necessary in order to weather the current downturn and to position the company for long-term success."
Arch's subsidiaries will close three higher-cost thermal mining complexes and associated preparation plants, temporarily idle Hazard's Flint Ridge complex and curtail production at other operations in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. The mine locations affected by the announced closings are the East Kentucky, Eastern and Knott County complexes. For full year 2012, Arch expects average cash costs in Appalachia, excluding severance and related costs, to remain in the range of $68 per ton to $73 per ton.
Moreover, these actions will reduce Arch's thermal coal production by more than 3 million tons annually. However, Arch continues to expect thermal coal sales volume in the range of 128 million to 134 million tons for 2012. The company also plans to realize savings on future capital spending due to the idling of several operations and the redeployment of equipment into other active operations. Arch estimates future reductions in annual capital expenditures in the range of $30 million to $40 million.
"Current market pressures and a challenging regulatory environment have pushed coal consumption in the United States to a 20-year low," said Eaves. "In response, we had previously streamlined capital spending, idled equipment and reduced shift work. We now are taking further steps to enhance our competitive cost position in Appalachia, while increasingly shifting our portfolio in the region toward higher-margin metallurgical coal operations. Despite the operational changes announced today, we are still able to serve customers here and abroad with the high level of quality they have come to expect from Arch."
Eaves reiterated that a strategic portfolio review is ongoing and may result in the future divestiture of some of Arch's noncore assets or reserves. "The continued aggressive steps we're taking to optimize our portfolio will allow us to better manage through the current business cycle and to prosper in the inevitable market rebound," added Eaves.
According to the Lexington (Ky) Herald Leader, Creve Coeur-based is expected to make an announcement Thursday regarding reports of hundreds of layoffs hitting the company's mines in West Virginia and Kentucky.
"There will be a lot affected around here, and all over," Leslie County Judge-Executive James Sizemore Sizemore told the paper.
Patch has asked a corporate spokesperson if there will be any impact on the company's Creve Coeur headquarters and has not heard back yet.
The Associated Press recently reported on woes facing the coal industry, including fellow Creve Coeur-based .
Stay with Patch for updates as this story develops.