Consol idles coal operations

Wall Street cannot figure out how to interpret Consol Energy's decision to halt longwall mining at two mines
March 8, 2012 12:01 am
  • Consol Energy's R. Barry Palmer brings four barges of coal up the Monongahela River.
    Consol Energy's R. Barry Palmer brings four barges of coal up the Monongahela River.
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The decisions affect a total of nearly 1,400 employees; the curtailed schedules will eliminate most overtime. Ms. Seay said the company is watching utility and market demand before setting a date to resume operations.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs in New York said the Buchanan idling challenges the previously-held assumption that Consol "will be able to sell whatever it can produce and be very profitable."

Consol shares have fallen more than 10 percent in the past month, closing Wednesday at $32.95, up 5 cents.

The Cecil company is not alone in adjusting to a weaker coal climate.

Alpha Natural Resources of Virginia announced in February it would suspend operations at four mines in Kentucky and West Virginia, with two more idling by early 2013.

Some critics see culprits for the declines in Washington, D.C.

"I believe the Obama administration's war on coal is real," said Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) in a statement after the Buchanan Mine news came out. "Coal is under attack from this administration, and the rest of the world knows it."

Meanwhile, Consol said the two leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum -- share the company's commitment to fossil fuel development.

"Both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum support energy policies that Consol Energy embraces, and so we watch this spirited primary contest with great interest -- hopeful that the 2012 elections bring us a renewed commitment to domestic energy which is so critical to our economic recovery and global competitiveness," the company said.

First Published 2012-03-07 23:37:40

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