More than 100 employees of coal mines in Letcher and Harlan counties were notified Wednesday of pending layoffs, according to a news release from Alpha Natural Resources.
The company said it expects to idle the mines in anticipation of selling them.
The mines covered in the notice were the North Fork Coal Corporation's No. 6 and 7 mines in Letcher County and the Panther No. 1 and Stillhouse No. 1 mines in Harlan County, according to the news release.
Alpha said a total of 111 people work at the four underground mines. Federal records list three of the four as not active, though they could have employees doing maintenance work.
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Alpha said layoff notices also went to employees at several of its properties in Wise County, Va. Those were the Mill Branch Coal Corp.'s Dorchester and Osaka mines, and the Pigeon Creek Processing plant.
All told, 292 employees of Alpha affiliates received notices, according to the news release.
Alpha and other companies have laid off thousands of miners in Central Appalachia to deal with sagging demand for coal.
Producers in the region face a number of challenges, including competition from natural gas and from other, cheaper domestic coal and tougher rules to protect air and water quality.
Eastern Kentucky has lost half its coal jobs in just a few years.