LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Arch Coal Incorporated says it will scale back operations at two coal mining complexes in Kentucky and Virginia, trimming the work force by more than 100.
The St. Louis-based company said Friday the cutbacks will affect the Cumberland River and Hazard mining complexes.
Company spokeswoman Kim Link says the decision was due on "ongoing coal market challenges."
She says the curtailed operations will cost about 110 jobs — about 65 of them company positions and the rest contractor jobs not controlled by Arch.
The Cumberland River mining complex is in Letcher County in Kentucky and Wise County in Virginia. The Hazard Mining complex is in Perry County, Kentucky.
Link says those eligible workers who are laid off will be offered severance packages.
She says the two complexes still employ nearly 500 workers.
The Southeast Missourian reports that the Missouri mining industry stands to gain from an increased need for silica sand, which is used in the process of large-scale hydraulic fracturing - or fracking.
Missouri is not an abundant resource of oil or natural gas, but it is a resource for silica sand. The silica sand is critical for the process of fracking.
Environmentalists in Missouri say there is concern that expanded sand mining will cause environmental damage.
The January 2013 Mineral Commodity Summary by the U.S. Geological Survey says Missouri is the sixth-largest producer of industrial sand and gravel.
KTRS's Michael Golde is on the scene and reports that the protesters' goal was to get arrested. They hope to draw attention to what they believe is a unfair deal concerning their pension and health benefits.
Peabody's Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications Vic Svec, says this is a matter between Patriot coal and the United Mine Workers of America. Many of the former miners at the protest, worked for Patriot Coal. They argue that Peabody Energy made Patriot Coal a separate company that was never supposed to succeed. They accuse Peabody of "fraudulent conveyance,” or transfer of money with the intent to hurt creditors, but that charge must be proved to hold Peabody liable for potential losses in retirement benefits.
There were also miners arrested at another protest of Peabody last month. The protest remains peaceful and those miners arrested were very cordial with police, even shaking hands with the arresting officers.