Mining equipment company to lay off 150 in Millersburg

ssloan@herald-leader.comMarch 4, 2013 

Mining equipment manufacturer Joy Global plans to close its Millersburg manufacturing operations, laying off 150 employees by October.

It's another cut by the company as it copes with a struggling mining industry. Last year, the Milwaukee-based company announced layoffs of more than 80 employees at its Lebanon plant.

"All of our sites are under review at present because we're experiencing a very significant shift in the Americas market," said Mark Finlay, vice president of marketing. "We've had a lot of closure of mining sites in and around that whole area."

The plant in Millersburg, in Bourbon County, produces original equipment feeder breakers, parts and components. That work will be moved to a Joy Global plant in Longview, Texas, according to a company statement.

Finlay said the company would continue to have a presence in Millersburg, where 37 employees will remain to focus on engineering, sales and marketing. The factory has been in operation since 1953, according to state records.

Joy Global has four other sites in Kentucky: operations in Lebanon and Salyersville and warehouses in Henderson and Lovely, on the Kentucky-West Virginia state line, according to its website.

Finlay declined to describe severance packages or anything similar for the 150 workers to be laid off by the end of the year. He said company officials would discuss that with them this week.

Layoffs will begin in May and wrap up by October, according to a filing that government officials require before large layoffs.

Bourbon County Judge-Executive Donnie Foley said the cuts would be "devastating to the city of Millersburg."

"So many people there have worked for so many years," Foley said. "When you get older, it's hard to find a job. It's going to be a major, major blow."

The layoffs are another problem for Kentucky's mining industry, which has mirrored slumps nationally as utilities have begun switching from coal-fired to natural gas-fired power plants to comply with federal environmental regulations. Also, warmer weather during the past couple of years has reduced demand.

Those factors led to a drop of 2,200 jobs in Kentucky's mining and logging sector in 2012, according to the state Office of Employment and Training. That was by far the largest employment decline among any of the state's 11 economic sectors. The second-largest was a drop of 500 jobs in the information sector.

Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz.

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