Twentymile cuts about 15 full-time employees | CraigDailyPress.com

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Twentymile cuts about 15 full-time employees

Officials: Reduction due to changing operations

Peabody Energy officials confirmed Monday that Twentymile Coal Co., which Peabody owns, recently terminated about 15 full-time positions at the mine.

Twentymile is located in Routt County but employs many Moffat County residents.

The reduction leaves the mine with a total work force of about 525 employees, Twentymile spokeswoman Beth Sutton said.

Sutton added that the mine plans to continue producing about the same amount of coal in the future — more than 8 million tons per year — and that the staff cuts are related to changing operations at the mine.

Twentymile has operated three continuous miner machines in addition to mining from its longwall during the past several months, Sutton said.

Mine officials plan to shut down one continuous miner, which Sutton said has been digging a path to move the mine's longwall, a process that is now completed.

"The Twentymile mine has run three continuous mining sections since 2008 to keep up with longwall development needs," she said. "With development work in the third section coming to a close, the mine will operate two continuous mining sections this year, in addition to the longwall.

"We have matched our staffing levels to our production needs."

Sutton added that the workers let go were offered a severance package, but the terms are confidential.

The staffing cuts at Twen­tymile differ from those announced in December 2009 at the Colowyo Coal Co. mine in southern Moffat County and northern Rio Blanco County.

Colowyo officials said the mine's decision to cut staff by 10 percent — about 30 jobs — came because it is having difficulty attracting long-term purchasing contracts.

The mine's business plan is based on gathering buyers who will contract to purchase coal for 10 years or more, which officials said has been difficult in the current economic and political climate.

Colowyo also plans to cut its coal production by about half, which Twentymile does not plan to do.

Colowyo officials said the mine sold between 4.5 million to 6.4 million tons from 1994 to 2008, but it projects to sell about 2.5 million tons in 2010 after selling roughly 2.7 million tons in the first nine months of 2009.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdaily­press.com.