BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. -

CONSOL Energy announced in a press release Friday that they will be reducing the operating schedule at the Buchanan Mine, resulting in the lay-offs of 188 employees.

We're following this story closely and will have more information online and this evening on News 5 WCYB.

The full press release is as follows:

"CONSOL Energy has announced it will reduce the operating schedule at its Buchanan Mine in southwest Virginia to two production shifts per day effective immediately.

The announcement is in keeping with first quarter earnings results reported earlier this week, and previous guidance issued which noted that the company was prepared to exert continued production discipline, as needed, to align with current global met coal market conditions. The action will result in the lay-off of 188 employees, including 39 salaried employees and 149 hourly employees. Employees were notified of the operating schedule change earlier today. The mine will operate with two production shifts per day, down from three. Third shift operations will be limited to maintenance activities.

"Earlier this year, we completed work on a $24 million hoist upgrade project to increase efficiency at our Buchanan Mine," commented CONSOL Energy Chief Operating Officer – Coal Division Jimmy Brock. "The mine is well-positioned for a return to higher production levels when market demand and pricing rebound."

Buchanan’s longwall mine typically produces approximately 400,000 tons per month of metallurgical grade coal used in steelmaking. Buchanan shipped 1.1 million tons in the first quarter, 489,000 tons of which were distributed to Chinese customers. Production at the mine will be adjusted as a result of the operating schedule changes.

While on the demand side, thermal coal demand has improved, met coal demand, particularly in Asia, has been slower to recover. The scheduling change is being made to control inventories and to align with metallurgical coal demand. The company will continue to monitor market conditions and respond accordingly."