Big Ridge, Inc. today announced it will permanently close the Willow Lake Mine near Harrisburg, according to a news release from Peabody Energy posted on the company’s Web site.
“The mine has failed to meet acceptable standards for safety, compliance and operating performance, and these ongoing issues make the operations unsustainable,” reads the news release.
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification letters are being provided to approximately 400 employees. Willow Lake sold 2.2 million tons in 2011.
A miner, Chad Meyers, 30, Goreville, was killed in an incident at Willow Lake at about 3 a.m. when he was pinned by a piece of mining equipment he was operating using a remote control, according to Saline County Coroner Jerry Doug Watson. Watson said at the time there had been no witnesses to the incident.
The work at the underground mine had been idled pending investigation.
The Saline County mine, which is located near Equality, about 50 miles east of Carbondale, employs about 460 people.
Whether that incident played a role in the closure is unclear. A call to Peabody Energy spokeswoman Beth Sutton led to a voice mail message indicating the mailbox was full and could not accept messages.
Peabody expects to incur a largely non-cash, one-time charge estimated at $40 to $60 million ($0.10 to $0.15 per share after tax) in the fourth quarter primarily to write off assets, increase asset retirement obligations and accrue severance, according to the release. The company expects little effect on ongoing earnings from the closing.
Peabody shares fell 23 cents to $24.38 in afternoon trading.