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Coal Company Announces New Round Of Layoffs, Furloughs

NTEC's Antelope Mine - operated by Cloud Peak Energy at the time of the photo
Cloud Peak Energy

The Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) has laid off eight salaried employees and furloughed 93 hourly employees at its Antelope Mine. The move comes about a month after the company laid off 130 employees between its Spring Creek, in southern Montana, and Antelope mines.

In a statement, company spokeswoman Catie Kerns said COVID-19 continues to ravage the economy and domestic demand for coal. The downturn has forced additional lay-offs.

"Demand for coal from the Antelope Mine has been significantly reduced due to continued economic challenges faced by the mine's customer base. As conditions improve we will look to bring back the workforce and continue providing high quality coal as we support the economic recovery of the region and US," she said.

Kerns added the eight workers who were laid-off will receive severance packages. Under the CARES Act, furloughed employees are eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

NTEC is a new player to the Powder River Basin (PRB). Last fall, NTEC paid the bankrupt Cloud Peak Energy $15.7 million up front with $40 million expected down the line to assume operations of its three mines in the PRB. NTEC was also expected to tie up financial loose-ends from the bankruptcy, assume reclamation responsibility, and tax liabilities

This is the eighth round of lay-offs at coal mines since early March. So far, roughly 430 miners have been laid-off. Nearly 200 workers have been furloughed, based on public information.

For the week ending May 16, coal production sat 44.6 percent below the comparable week in 2019. U.S. coal production year-to-date is 24.5 percent lower than the same period in 2019.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Cooper McKim, at cmckim5@uwyo.edu.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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