Wyoming’s largest coal miner Peabody Energy announced today it will lay off approximately 250 employees across its corporate support departments, aiming to cut costs during a prolonged period of weak markets.
Peabody spokeswoman Beth Sutton said the cutbacks are not expected to impact the company’s planned production in Wyoming, nor will it impact its employees at the company’s Powder River Basin mines. However, Peabody’s office in Gillette will be closed as a result of the cutbacks.
“The company regrets the impact of the office closure on employees, their families and their communities and has taken steps to lessen the impact. Approximately 30 employees will take on other business roles and will be relocated to offices at Peabody’s operations in the Campbell County area,” Sutton told WyoFile via email.
“The office closure will result in a net reduction of approximately 20 employees who will receive severance, extended benefits coverage, outplacement support and counseling assistance to help with the transition. The office closure is effective immediately with final closure activities continuing in the coming weeks.”
The coal mining industry is a major economic force in Gillette, Wright and other communities in northeast Wyoming. Wyoming coal mines employed 6,578 people in Wyoming in 2014 — mostly in northeast Wyoming.
Peabody Energy’s North Antelope Rochelle mine in the southern Powder River Basin is the largest coal mine in the U.S. It produced more than 111 million tons of coal in 2013, according to the Wyoming State Geological Survey. Peabody also owns and operates the Caballo and Rawhide coal mines in the Powder River Basin.
The mining giant is also “undertaking a review of shifts, scheduling and mine planning at operations in Australia to determine optimal production levels” it stated in a press release.
“While we regret the impact that these actions have on employees, their families and communities, today’s announcement represents another necessary step to drive the company lower on the cost curve,” Peabody Energy president and CEO Glenn Kellow said in a prepared statement.
Sutton told WyoFile, “The company believes that the market factors affecting Peabody and other producers are largely cyclical with stronger industry fundamentals expected to return.”
This story was updated on June 8, 2015. — Ed