Reporting Jon Delano
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Consol Energy — formerly Consolidation Coal Company — is getting out of the domestic coal business, at least in West Virginia.
“In order to fulfill an aggressive growth strategy that we have determined will mark the future for the company, we’ve decided to sell our five West Virginia coal mines to Murray Energy,” Laurel Ziemba, Consol’s director of external relations, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday.
The 2,800 mine workers will not lose their jobs, union officials said.
“I don’t see anything changing because, like I said, we have an agreement that goes with the sale,” noted Ron Stipanovich with the United Mine Workers Union.
In addition to the coal mines, Consol is also selling its river and dock operations, including 21 towboats and 600 barges.
Consol says the total deal is valued at $3.5 billion.
While West Virginia coal is mostly used domestically in the USA, Consol is keeping coal operations in Pennsylvania and Virginia, largely for international sales.
“We see tremendous potential for growth overseas in those three remaining coal mining complexes,” said Ziemba.
She also said new rules from the Environmental Protection Agency is making it hard for the domestic coal industry.
“If you look at the new source performance standards that are being promulgated by the EPA it, in effect, puts a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, which makes it very difficult to operate as a coal producer in the United States,” Ziemba added.
“We’re hoping that this won’t lead to more job reduction but, quite frankly, when you look at what’s happening around the country, I think the jobs are going to be hard pressed,” noted U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, an Upper St. Clair Republican.
But Consol thinks their growth in the Marcellus shale gas business, along with international coal sales, is the ticket for growth.
“We’re hoping to add employees at our natural gas operations and our coal operations in Pennsylvania,” noted Ziemba.