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Coal company files WARN Notices to lay off 135 in Southwest Virginia

Virginia, (Qnnflash) – Wellmore Energy Company, LLC, a Ukrainian-owned coal company based in Johnson City, has submitted seven WARN Notices through the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) for its facilities in Buchanan County, Virginia. The notices, filed on July 11, project layoffs to take effect on September 10. The impact of these layoffs will be felt at Wellmore’s facilities in Big Rock, Grundy, and Hurley.

Wellmore Energy Company, LLC operates under the umbrella of United Coal Co., which is itself owned by Metinvest, a Ukrainian energy and steel conglomerate with extensive global coal holdings. The purchase of United Coal Co. by Metinvest occurred in 2009. These layoffs are anticipated to affect approximately 135 employees. The majority of these individuals are employed at three mine locations: 58 workers at the Elk Creek surface mine in Hurley and a combined 59 workers at the Paw Paw 2 mine’s north and south locations. Paw Paw 2 operates as a deep mine and both it and the Elk Creek surface mine began operations in 2019.

While the layoffs have raised concerns, Buchanan County’s Industrial Development Authority, led by Matthew Hill, offers the perspective that these reductions could potentially be temporary. He suggests that coal companies often adapt to market fluctuations by scaling back and then rehiring. Hill acknowledges that the presence of the new Coronado mining operation and other employers in the county ensures the availability of alternative job opportunities.

Efforts to obtain more information regarding the pending layoffs from Wellmore Energy Company and United Coal Company are underway, as News Channel 11 has reached out to them for clarification. United’s official website reports that Wellmore employs a total of 389 individuals and manages seven contract mines in addition to operating two company-managed deep mines (including Paw Paw) and a single company-operated surface mine (Elk Creek).

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