A.T. Massey Coal Co. announced Friday that market conditions have forced the company to idle, or cut back, operations at six mines run by its subsidiaries.Three mines in Nicholas County were temporarily closed, including Alex Energy's Flying Eagle and Sugar Camp Branch mines, as well as White Buck Coal's Mine 21. Massey also temporarily closed Road Fork Development's Burnwell Mine in Pike County, Ky.Two mining operations were cut to 50 percent of normal production: Victory Mining Co.'s No. 1 mine in Wayne County and Sidney Coal's Pegs Branch mine in Pike County, Ky.
Massey spokesman Bill Marcum said the mines will remain idle "for an indefinite period of time.""Market factors contributing to the reduced demand include diminished export opportunities due to the Asian economic crisis, reduced steam-coal demand due to the mild weather, and increased competition from the Powder River Basin," he said.Production costs are particularly low in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, where some surface operations mine coal from seams up to 100 feet thick.Any decision to reactivate these mines will depend upon improvement in coal market conditions, Marcum said.