PBS Coals idling 2 Somerset mines, laying off 138
A Southwestern Pennsylvania coal company is idling two of its mines and laying off 138 workers, but it hopes things will get better next year.
PBS Coals' announcement Thursday comes on the heels of a July announcement that it had laid off 225 workers. Before those layoffs, PBS had roughly 1,000 employees. Now, the Roytown and Hart mines about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh will be idled, too, leaving the company with about 600 employees.
PBS Coals Inc. spokeswoman Lori Mason said the Somerset-based company has been hurt by the weak global steel market. PBS is owned by Russian steel giant OAO Severstal, and almost all its coal is used to produce steel.
“The steel market has been sluggish, but we believe there is going to be a pickup in that” in 2013, Mason said, noting that the company is still making new investments in its operations.
The company blamed tightening Environmental Protection Agency regulations, but competition from booming natural gas production has played a role.
According to the PBS website, coal used for power generation made up 45 percent of its production in 2010. Now, steam coal is about 1 percent of output, partly because the price for that product is so low. Many power generation plants shifted from coal to gas over the last two years because of a major drop in natural gas prices.
Other companies are struggling with the same pressures.
In September, Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources announced it was immediately closing eight mines — four in West Virginia, three in Virginia and one in Pennsylvania — and eliminating 1,200 jobs companywide by early 2013.
Bentek, a Colorado company that follows energy markets, said in a report this week that declines in coal consumption have pushed companies to focus on exports “and relinquish the U.S. power market to gas.”
The federal Energy Information Administration said in October that coal exports in 2012 were expected to break the previous record set in 1979, and that coal exports have tripled since 2003.
Overall, EIA reported this month that total coal production is expected to fall about 7 percent this year. Next year, Appalachian region coal production is expected to decline slightly.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Judge lifts order blocking racy state emails
- 1 dead, 1 injured in Westmoreland crash
- Bethel Park settled police officer’s suit for $25,000
- Penguins’ new 3rd jersey similar to early 1990s version
- Alligator spotted along the banks of the Allegheny River in Cheswick
- Pittsburgh firefighter suffers minor electrical shock in Wilkinsburg fire
- Rossi: The series that will define these Pirates
- Steelers’ Timmons looks to reverse defense’s struggles
- Google grants teachers’ school supply wishes
- Steelers’ Polamalu relying on smarts as physical skills decline
- Police investigate armed robberies in Lawrenceville