Alpha: Wise County and Buchanan County mines impacted

Layoffs worry Southwest Virginians

1,200 jobs are cut in the coal industry's latest round of layoffs.

Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources announced Tuesday that 400 of those jobs have been eliminated immediately. Eight mines are now idled, three of which are local.

Alpha officials confirm Guest Mountain deep mines #8 and #9 in Wise County, and the Twin Star surface mine in Buchanan County will be idled, but we found out massive layoffs in the coal industry are being felt all across Appalachia.

It's the same story the coal industry has been fighting for years, and now Alpha Natural Resources is blaming a dwindling market for coal for cutting 1,200 jobs by early 2013.

"As CEO, that's probably one of the most difficult decisions I have to make; to authorize a reduction in force," said Kevin Crutchfield, Chairman and CEO of Alpha Natural Resources.

Crutchfield also told us the company will cut 16 million tons of coal production. Most of it is the kind that's used to make electricity. "We've undergone a lot of changes in this business, both structural and cyclical. Cheap natural gas has had an impact on our business, as has overbearing regulation out of the EPA," Crutchfield added.

We spoke with Barbara Altizer, executive director of the Eastern Coal Council. She told News 5 she's worried for those losing their jobs and entire communities. "Anytime there's an impact, everybody feels it from the retail store, to the mom and pop to store down the road," Altizer said.

Bobby Parks owns his own business in Southwest Virginia. He said without coal miners, he doesn't have customers. "Anytime you're dealing with people that work in the coalfield, if they don't make any money, they're not going to spend any money. Naturally, it'll affect everyone around here," Parks explained.

But it's those like Jessica Stiltner, a miner's wife, who worry most. She fears her husband could be the next to be laid off. "[Coal] supports our family. It provides food in our mouths, and it pays our bills," said Stiltner.

Alpha's CEO Kevin Crutchfield gave News 5 more facts on these layoffs.

He said some of the positions cut will come from the coalfields, and some will be in administration and support. Some employees may get jobs elsewhere in the company. For those who don't, we're told severance packages will be offered.

Crutchfield also said he hopes the idled mines will open again in the future if demand picks up.

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