PBS Coals is idling five underground and surface metallurgical coal mines in Pennsylvania -- half of its operating mines -- and reducing production at two other deep mines, a move that cuts the Severstal subsidiary's work force by more than a fourth.
"We have to cut costs and hunker down," Lori Mason, PBS general counsel, said in a Monday interview.
The company is closing the Horning underground mine and the Friedens, Berwind Lohr, Rhodes II and Hart surface mines, she said. In addition, the Quecreek and Roytown deep mines will continue to operate "but at reduced volume," she said.
Mason said she did not know much production would fall overall due to the moves, which were effective on July 20. Company spokesman Hank Parke recently said PBS expected to sell in excess of 3 million st in 2012, with met coal accounting for 95% of that total. Steam coal represents the remaining 5%.
The mine idlings affect 225 employees. Mason called the layoffs "permanent," although she said PBS eventually hopes to resume production at the shuttered mines and, if so, "people can reapply" for jobs.