Cumberland coal mine not closing: owner

Despite reports to the contrary late last month by regional media citing the United Mine Workers of America, coal miner Iron Senergy has confirmed that its Cumberland underground mine in Greene County, Pa., is not, in fact, closing its doors.

Company officials said they are aware of the statements from the UMWA related to the permanent closure of the operation.

“These reports are false,” Iron Senergy said.

“Prior to Iron’s acquisition of the Cumberland Mine from Contura Energy, the Cumberland mine was set to be permanently closed in December 2022. In the last three years, however, Iron and its owner Justin Thompson have deployed over $130 million in capital to extend the life of, and invest in the future success of, the Cumberland mine.”

Additionally, the operator said, it has “significantly reclaimed and repurposed” what was the Emerald longwall mine, which was closed in 2015, and rebranded it the Greene Energy Center. That site now hosts a number of industrial applications, including a new frac-sand transloading facility.

Iron added that, during this time, it added over 100 full-time employees at the Cumberland mine and donated over $3 million to over 150 local community organizations.

“Any suggestion by the UMWA in its public statements that Iron has treated its employees unfairly, or that Iron does not understand its importance within the community, is patently false and would be refuted by an overwhelming majority of the workforce at the Cumberland Mine and the citizens of Greene County, Pennsylvania,” Iron Senergy said.

“Furthermore, any suggestion by the UMWA that Iron is failing to communicate adequately with the UMWA is unfounded.”

The company said its history of regular meetings with the union to discuss issues is well documented, and it will continue to engage “as needed and when reasonably convenient” with the miners’ representative.

“Iron will not, however, respond to unreasonable demands for in-person meetings, on short notice, ahead of a holiday weekend, when management is traveling and/or spending time with family.”

A written communication prior to the UMWA’s statement on Cumberland’s future was clear, the company said, that management was willing to schedule a meeting at a mutually convenient time for all parties in the near future.

It also confirmed a gas event at the Cumberland mine that preceded both group’s reports.

“The workers at the Cumberland mine were sent home on March 20, 2024, as a result of elevated methane levels. Those workers will be called back to work when Iron determines that the Cumberland Mine can be operated safely and compliantly and when sufficient modes of transportation are made available by Iron’s customers to reduce inventory levels and justify the recommencement of mining activities, which has only been compounded by the recent closure of the Port of Baltimore as a result of the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge,” Iron officials stressed.

“Subject to the foregoing, Iron fully expects to resume production in the coming days as previously planned.”

The miner noted that it has an obvious desire to experience the continued operation and success of Cumberland but, like other coal miners, it must continue to evaluate the continued operation based on a number of relevant factors, including its ability to operate a safe and compliant coal mine, its ability to adequately staff its operations with qualified personnel, and its view on the long-term commitment of its customer base.

“That type of evaluation commenced in December 2020 when Iron acquired the Cumberland mine, has occurred each year since then and will continue to occur in 2024 and beyond,” it said.

“The UMWA should not confuse that evaluation, and the related planning activities related thereto, as a decision to permanently close the Cumberland Mine at any particular time.”

Source: Iron Senergy 

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