Buckskin Mining Co. told its employees Friday some of them will be laid off during the next few weeks.
“We are still finalizing how many positions will be affected,” said Tom Janssen, a spokesman with Omaha, Neb.-based Kiewit Corp., which owns the mine. “We have begun and will continue to actively work with the impacted employees to identify and pursue other opportunities within our parent organization.”
The decision is driven by today’s challenging coal market industries, Janssen said in an email.
Since the beginning of the year, Powder River Basin coal stockpiles have grown at utility companies across the country.
Natural gas prices had decreased to 10-year lows, so low that some utilities have switched off coal-burning generators and switched on gas generators.
Compounding the problem was the mild winter, which resulted is fewer people cranking up their furnaces.
“While we have taken significant steps over the last several months to avoid this action, today’s announcement was a necessary business decision.”
Buckskin mine is most northern in Campbell County.
In 2011, the mine produced 25 million tons of coal in the Powder River Basin, according to data by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
During the first quarter of 2012, the mine produced 4.9 million tons of coal, down from the first quarter of 2011, when it produced 6.2 million tons.
MSHA hasn’t yet made second quarter data available.
“We (the company) wanted to inform our employees as soon as possible,” Janssen said. “We regret the impact this action has on our employees.”
Buckskin isn’t the only mine in Campbell County to experience cuts.
In April, Peabody Energy Corp., which owns North Antelope-Rochelle, Caballo and Rawhide mines in Campbell County, let some contract labor go.
Cloud Peak Energy Inc., which owns Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in Campbell County and in Spring Creek mine in Decker, Mont., also was limiting overtime and contractors.
Arch Coal, which owns Black Thunder and Coal Creek mines, has idled some equipment.