CONSOL Energy's Miller Creek Surface Operations to be Idled
PITTSBURGH, Oct. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) has issued notice under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) of its intent to idle its Miller Creek surface operations near Naugatuck, W. Va., resulting in a layoff impacting approximately 145 employees. Operations impacted include the company's Wiley Surface Mine, Wiley Creek Surface Mine, Minway Surface Mine, Minway Preparation Plant, and Miller Creek Administration Group, all located in Mingo County, W. Va. The layoffs will occur during a 14-day period beginning at 12:01 a.m., on December 30, 2012. Employees were officially briefed on the situation today. At this time underground operations will not be affected.
To date in 2012, the Miller Creek complex has produced 1.55 million tons of coal; 83% is produced by surface operations. Annual direct estimated economic impact of the Miller Creek Complex in Mingo County is $161.6 million.
CONSOL Energy attributed the idling of its Miller Creek operations to a sequence of permit delays that has prevented the company from securing all of the necessary environmental permits required to continue mining as identified in the company's mine plan. The company secured its Article III mining permit in November 2011 from the state of West Virginia. It has been working cooperatively with the state Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to secure the needed environmental permits, namely the Clean Water Act section 404 and section 402 permits, since November 2007. CONSOL Energy received news on Monday, October 29 that the U.S. EPA released its objection to the company's 402 permit, however, that permit alone is not sufficient to allow miners to begin work.
"The decision to idle our Miller Creek surface operations is a difficult one for several reasons," said Nicholas J. DeIuliis, president of CONSOL Energy. "The facility has operated without a lost-time accident since 1986, an exemplary safety record for the mining industry, and it is unfortunate that they will not be afforded the opportunity to extend that record. The failure to obtain timely permits despite our efforts in planning and cooperating with multiple agencies of jurisdiction is frustrating and is having a direct impact not only on these employees and their families, but on all state residents."
"CONSOL Energy has been working under a Memorandum of Understanding together with the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the West Virginia Departments of Highways and Environmental Protection, and the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority since 2007 to secure the permits for development of our Buffalo Mountain mine project on which the King Coal Highway was planned for post-mine use land," DeIuliis continued. "It was there we were planning to reassign our workforce once the area in which they were mining was completed. The combined mine and highway project, in addition to providing much needed jobs, would have a total statewide economic impact of $484.7 million dollars."
CONSOL Energy is appreciative of the efforts of the state of West Virginia to issue all the required permits under their jurisdiction and remains optimistic that as the company continues to work with federal, state, and local officials, it will be ultimately successful in securing the approvals necessary to enable jobs and economic development for the mine and highway project in Mingo County and the state.
About CONSOL Energy
CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) is a Pittsburgh-based producer of coal and natural gas. It has 12 bituminous coal mining complexes in four states and reports proven and probable coal reserves of 4.5 billion tons. The company's premium Appalachian coals are sold worldwide to electricity generators and steelmakers. In natural gas, CONSOL has transformed itself from a pure-play coal bed methane producer to a full-fledged exploration and production company. The company is a leading producer in the Marcellus Shale, has an active exploration program in the Utica Shale and has proved natural gas reserves of 3.5 trillion cubic feet. Operational safety is the company's top core value and CONSOL boasts a record of almost two times better than the industry average for underground bituminous coal mines. In 2011, the company recorded its best safety record since it was founded in 1860. CONSOL Energy is a member of the Standard & Poor's 500 Equity Index and the Fortune 500. Additional information about CONSOL Energy can be found at its Web site: www.consolenergy.com.
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These risks, contingencies and uncertainties relate to, among other matters, the following: deterioration in global economic conditions in any of the industries in which our customers operate, or sustained uncertainty in financial markets cause conditions we cannot predict; a significant or extended decline in prices we receive for our coal and natural gas affecting our operating results and cash flows; our customers extending existing contracts or entering into new long-term contracts for coal; our reliance on major customers; our inability to collect payments from customers if their creditworthiness declines; the disruption of rail, barge, gathering, processing and transportation facilities and other systems that deliver our coal and natural gas to market; a loss of our competitive position because of the competitive nature of the coal and natural gas industries, or a loss of our competitive position because of overcapacity in these industries impairing our profitability; our inability to maintain satisfactory labor relations; coal users switching to other fuels in order to comply with various environmental standards related to coal combustion emissions; the impact of potential, as well as any adopted regulations relating to greenhouse gas emissions on the demand for coal and natural gas; foreign currency fluctuations could adversely affect the competitiveness of our coal abroad; the risks inherent in coal and natural gas operations being subject to unexpected disruptions, including geological conditions, equipment failure, timing of completion of significant construction or repair of equipment, fires, explosions, accidents and weather conditions which could impact financial results; decreases in the availability of, or increases in, the price of commodities or capital equipment used in our mining and natural gas operations; decreases in the availability of, an increase in the prices charged by third party contractors or, failure of third party contractors to provide quality services to us in a timely manner could impact our profitability; obtaining and renewing governmental permits and approvals for our coal and natural gas operations; the effects of government regulation on the discharge into the water or air, and the disposal and clean-up of, hazardous substances and wastes generated during our coal and natural gas operations; the effects of stringent federal and state employee health and safety regulations, including the ability of regulators to shut down a mine or well; the potential for liabilities arising from environmental contamination or alleged environmental contamination in connection with our past or current coal and gas operations; the effects of mine closing, reclamation, gas well closing and certain other liabilities; uncertainties in estimating our economically recoverable coal and gas reserves; costs associated with perfecting title for coal or gas rights on some of our properties; the outcomes of various legal proceedings, which are more fully described in our reports filed under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; the impacts of various asbestos litigation claims; increased exposure to employee related long-term liabilities; our accruals for obligations for long-term employee benefits are based upon assumptions which, if inaccurate, could result in our being required to expend greater amounts than anticipated; due to our participation in an underfunded multi-employer pension plan, we have exposure under that plan that extends beyond what our obligation would be with respect to our employees and in the future we may have to make additional cash contributions to fund the pension plan or incur withdrawal liability; lump sum payments made to retiring salaried employees pursuant to our defined benefit pension plan exceeding total service and interest cost in a plan year; acquisitions and joint ventures that we recently have completed or entered into or may make in the future including the accuracy of our assessment of the acquired businesses and their risks, achieving any anticipated synergies, integrating the acquisitions and unanticipated changes that could affect assumptions we may have made and divestitures we anticipate may not occur or produce anticipated proceeds including joint venture partners paying anticipated carry obligations; the terms of our two significant existing gas joint ventures restrict our flexibility and actions taken by the other party in our gas joint ventures may impact our financial position; the anti-takeover effects of our rights plan could prevent a change of control; risks associated with our debt; replacing our natural gas reserves, which if not replaced, will cause our gas reserves and gas production to decline; our ability to find adequate water sources for use in gas drilling, or our ability to dispose of water used or removed from strata in connection with our gas operations at a reasonable cost and within applicable environmental rules; our hedging activities may prevent us from benefiting from price increases and may expose us to other risks; and other factors discussed in the 2011 Form 10-K under "Risk Factors," as updated by any subsequent Form 10-Qs, which are on file at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
SOURCE CONSOL Energy Inc.