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4 West Mine in Greene County to close in March; 370 workers affected | TribLIVE.com
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4 West Mine in Greene County to close in March; 370 workers affected

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The owner of a Greene County coal mine notified the state this week that it is closing the mine and laying off about 370 workers, according to state records.

The 4 West Mine in Dilliner will close at the end of the afternoon shift March 2, laying off about 191 employees immediately, MEPCO LLC of Perry says in the notice.

“The mine is being permanently closed because the aging of the mine and adverse geological conditions have impaired the productivity of the mine and forced higher production costs,” the notice says. “Under these conditions, the mine is uncompetitive and not sustainable in today’s coal and electricity markets.”

Another 175 employees will be laid off by June 1 after they finish removing equipment from the mine, the company said. The final four employees will be laid off by the end of the year.

From the first quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017, the number of coal mining operations with employees dropped by 54 to 1,079 in the nation and has dropped by eight to 265 in Pennsylvania, according to operator quarterly reports filed with the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The figures are the net difference between the two quarters, with new mines such as the Acosta Deep Mine in Somerset County offsetting mines that have closed or idled.

The number of people employed by coal mining operations has dropped by 310 to 54,178 nationally but has increased by 103 to 5,293 in Pennsylvania, according to the reports.

Quarterly production figures have increased by 13.4 percent nationally and 9 percent in Pennsylvania, according to the reports.

MEPCO filed the notice under a state law that requires large employers to give employees advance notice of layoffs.

MEPCO is affiliated with Longview Power LLC, which operates a 700-megawatt power plant in Maidsville, W.Va.

The 4 West Mine is one of three mines that supply power to the facility, which provides electricity to about 500,000 homes, according to the company’s website. Longview CEO Jeff Keffer couldn’t be reached for comment.

A Martinsburg, W.Va., grand jury in September indicted MEPCO’s former president and CEO James L. Laurita Jr., 57, of Morgantown on eight counts related to campaign fraud. Prosecutors claim he used employees and their spouses to illegally funnel company money to the campaigns of four people running for federal offices between 2010 and 2013.

Laurita has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial, according to court records.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, [email protected] or via Twitter @TribBrian.

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