US coking coal producer Arch Coal idles Cumberland River mine

US coking coal producer Arch Coal has idled its Cumberland River coal complex in Virginia.

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The mine announced the closure of the mine on Monday July 21 and said the decision had been made in response to the “challenged metallurgical coal markets”.
The move will reduce Arch Coal’s 2014 metallurgical coal sales volumes by approximately 200,000 tonnes, the miner said.

This is the third contract coking coal mine to be idled by Arch Coal in the past year.

“Our strategy is increasingly shifting [to] higher-margin, lower-cost metallurgical coal operations, while retaining our valuable reserves for when market conditions strengthen in the future,” Arch Coal ceo and president John Eaves said.

A total of 213 full-time positions will be cut as a consequence of the mine being idled, Arch Coal said.

The miner sold 290,000 tonnes of coal from Cumberland River in the first half of 2014. 

The company now expects to ship 6.3-6.8 million tonnes of metallurgical coal for the full year in 2014.

High-cost US coking coal producers have been hit hard by a recent slump in coking coal prices.

US company Walter Energy halted operations at its Canadian mining operations in April, slashing 415 jobs in the face of tumbling coal prices.

April also saw Virginia coking coal producer James River file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, entering into a $110-million debtor-in-possession financing facility in a bid to tackle its financial problems.

Seaborne coking coal prices have fallen by around 20% snice the beginning of the year. Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index cfr China fell from $143 per tonne in January 2014 to just over $121 per tonne in the third week of July.