Coal mine near Harrisburg closing, impacts 400 workers - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Coal mine near Harrisburg closing, impacts 400 workers

A 30-year employee was killed in an accident at the min on Nov. 17. A 30-year employee was killed in an accident at the min on Nov. 17.
The coal mine has failed to meet acceptable standards for safety, compliance and operating performance, and these ongoing issues make the operations unsustainable. (Source: KFVS multimedia journalist Arnold Wyrick) The coal mine has failed to meet acceptable standards for safety, compliance and operating performance, and these ongoing issues make the operations unsustainable. (Source: KFVS multimedia journalist Arnold Wyrick)
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) letters are being provided to approximately 400 employees. (Source: KFVS multimedia journalist Arnold Wyrick) Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) letters are being provided to approximately 400 employees. (Source: KFVS multimedia journalist Arnold Wyrick)
(Source: KFVS multimedia journalist Arnold Wyrick) (Source: KFVS multimedia journalist Arnold Wyrick)
HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) -

The Willow Lake Mine near Harrisburg will close, impacting the jobs of 400 people.

"I think it's going to be a very hard blow on not only the families but the entire community," said James Baker of Eldorado. "And I can't quite see why they're doing it."

According to Big Ridge, Inc., the coal mine has failed to meet acceptable standards for safety, compliance and operating performance, and these ongoing issues make the operations unsustainable.

The company also cites performance production as a factor in decision to close.

"I really think it's going to hurt a lot of families around the holidays, especially at Christmas," said Tiffany Koker of Eldorado. "And I think it's going to really impact the community with them losing their jobs, that the community does need."

This comes after a deadly accident at the mine on November 17.

Chad Wayne Meyers, a 30-year-old employee at the Willow Lake Mine was fatally injured early on Nov. 17 after he became pinned by a continuous mining machine that he was operating.

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) letters are being provided to about 400 employees, according to a press release from the company.

Some of the workers may be called back after the holidays to remove some of the mining equipment that is underneath the ground.

Willow Lake sold 2.2 million tons of coal in 2011. The mine has a workforce of about 460 people and operates year-round, seven days a week, according to Peabody Energy's website.

"The loss of four hundred good jobs, these are hard working men and women," said Harrisburg Mayor Eric Gregg. "And it's just really difficult to sit here as a mayor and think about what that's going to do to this community."

Peabody expects to incur a largely non-cash, one-time charge estimated at $40 to $60 million ($0.10 to $0.15 per share after tax) in the fourth quarter primarily to write off assets, increase asset retirement obligations and accrue severance, according to the company. The company expects little effect on ongoing earnings from the closing.

Stay with Heartland News and kfvs12.com for updates to this story.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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