Heartland Miner Layoffs

Heartland Miner Layoffs
By: Arnold Wyrick

(Galatia, IL)--Southern Illinois coal miners were hit with another shock wave from The American Coal Company. 800 workers received layoff notices that the nations 3rd largest coal mine could be cutting jobs.

The problem lies deep beneath the ground of the mining companies newest shaft. "We've encountered roof conditions that have impeded our mining, an influx of water, igneous dykes, and undulations in the coal seam which have either slowed down or prevented our mining in some area of the Millennium Portal," says Robert Murray President of American Coal Company.

Murray explain why the igneous dykes are creating a huge problem for their mining operations. "The igneous dykes cannot be penetrated with the mining machinery we have. We have to drill and blast them," Murray said. And that takes time away from the crew that could be used mining coal. "The main thing that allows an operation to exist and compete in the very competitive coal market place is the rate at which you mine the coal," said Murray. "And the conditions have drastically slowed down our mining and in some cases halted it all together."

If things don't improve at the Galatia Mine hundreds of miners could lose their jobs. And in the town of Galatia with a population of just over a 1000, jobs mean customers for local businesses. "And for everybody that works in the mine, and they live in the community, they pay taxes and they shop here, and it's going to effect all of us," says Linda Mays owner of Mays' Cafe. But American Coal had to hand out the layoff notices in order to comply with a Federal Law known as the "WARN Act", if they plan to layoff more then 49 workers in the next 60 days. " It is our hope that we can get through this situation without laying off anyone," Murray said. But if the mine isn't able to increase it's production rate, the layoffs could begin in June.