Share This Page

Rosebud Mining furloughs 429 workers

| Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, 11:42 a.m.
This photo taken May 5, 2014, shows the stacks of the Homer City Generating Station in Homer City.

Rosebud Mining Co. furloughed about half its workforce and idled 20 mines this week because power plants stopped burning its coal during the warm start to the winter.

The Kittanning-based company hopes to bring back the 429 out-of-work employees by next month, though, as stockpiles ease.

“We would expect, based on the guidance from our customers, to start shipping again by the end of the month and bring everyone back in February,” company vice president Jim Barker said Tuesday.

Three mines in Ohio will remain online. The furloughed workers, who are not unionized, will maintain their benefits, Barker said.

Record warmth across the Northeast and other regions in November and December brought below-normal demand from power plants accustomed to burning lots of coal for electricity. It also cut deeply into already-low natural gas prices, prompting utilities to burn more gas when available.

Stockpiles grew at Rosebud's biggest customers in the region, including Homer City Generating Station and Keystone in Shelocta.

“Their inventory is built to the point they had to shut off delivery, and ours was built to the point we had to shut down,” Barker said. Deliveries stopped Dec. 18 and the mines were idled Monday.

Rosebud employs about 850 people and has expanded over the past two years through acquisitions.

Coal mining already was suffering nationwide because of tougher competition from cheap natural gas and tighter environmental standards for power plants. Production in 2015 fell more than 10 percent compared to the previous year, and for the last week of December was 30 percent lower than the comparable week in 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Companies have shut down mines and laid off tens of thousands of miners over the past year because of the softening demand.

David Conti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5802 or dconti@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.