Shoemaker miners to work less

BENWOOD – Due to reaching the “maximum capacity” of raw coal stock, hundreds of employees at Shoemaker Mine will be working fewer hours over the next few weeks, according to Consol Energy spokeswoman Lynn Seay.

Just days after Consol announced it would sell five West Virginia coal mines – including the Shoemaker and McElroy facilities in Marshall County – to St. Clairsville-based Murray Energy in a $3.5 billion deal, Consol officials are curtailing work at the Shoemaker Mine. The change of ownership is not scheduled to take place until the end of this year.

The Shoemaker Mine is an underground longwall operation that opened in 1966. According to Consol, the current number of employees at the mine is about 740. The facility produced 5.3 million tons of coal in 2012, while it has yielded roughly 4.1 million tons so far in 2013.

Seay said during the partial curtailment, production at Shoemaker will idle on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Production will resume at 8 a.m. Monday, “in order to efficiently reduce inventory over the next couple of weeks,” she said.

“During these weekend periods, in order to maintain the mine, only a limited number of underground employees will be scheduled to work,” Seay said. “However, in order to process the coal and effectively reduce the inventory, all Prep Plant employees will continue to be scheduled to work as normal.”

Prior to the transaction between Murray and Consol, Murray employed 3,300 workers; after the purchase, Murray will employ 7,100 workers.

Murray’s annual coal production, as of June 30 was 30.1 million tons. It now stands to total 58.6 million tons. Total coal reserves prior to the buyout were 859 million tons and are now expected to top 1.1 billion tons.

When asked if the partial Shoemaker curtailment was related to the deal with Murray, Seay said there was no connection, continuing to emphasize the mine’s current overabundance of coal stock.

Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent said the company would have no comment regarding the situation at Shoemaker.