Blackjewel Leadership Optimistic Week After Mine Closures

Jul 8, 2019

Informational session held for former Blackjewel employees
Credit Cooper McKim

Former Blackjewel workers still have health insurance. Twenty to 30 percent of dislocated employees have found new jobs. Not all mine customers have abandoned Blackjewel. That's the good news coming from Brandy Elder, Blackjewel's Human Resources manager, at an information session in Gillette on Monday.

She said she's spoken with Blackjewel's Vice President of Operations Dan Baker and said more news will come very soon.

"Dan, when I talked to him before I came in here this morning, stated that he is very optimistic. Of course, there's no guarantees. But we are hoping that we will hear something this week," Elder said.

Representatives from the Gillette Workforce Center spoke at the informational session. Rick Mansheim, the manager, said there's been a steady flow of dislocated Blackjewel workers coming in since July 1 - about 70 a day. But he said the job market is better now than in the last crisis in 2016.

"Most places are underemployed and looking for employees. So, if there's a bright side to this, it's that timing was in a situation where people are looking for employees," Mansheim said.

HR Manager Elder gave some final updates: former mine owner Contura was visiting Blackjewel mines, adding the company hasn't said anything about taking over the mines again. Additional employees aren't needed in the skeleton crew as of now. Seven have been assigned at each mine to keep the area safe.