Arch Laying Off Workers At North Fork’s Last Coal Mine

One of Colorado’s most productive coal mines, West Elk Mine in Gunnison County, could see its workforce reduced by 80 jobs, or about one-third.

The mine is owned by Arch Coal, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year. Arch Coal did not reply to a request for comment.

The news follows the permanent closure of Oxbow Mining's Elk Creek Mine and multiple rounds of layoffs at Bowie Resource Partners' Bowie No. 2, which has been idled.

“We regret the need for this difficult action and the resulting impacts on our employees, their families and the North Fork community," the company said in a statement carried by the Grand Junction Sentinel. "We greatly appreciate the strong support we have received and we continue to pursue markets for West Elk’s high-quality, low (pollution) emitting product.”

The Paonia town administrator, Jane Berry, told The Daily Sentinel, "The community feels the impact of all layoffs of each of the mines in a dramatic fashion because of how it affects our families and our communities and our schools."

West Elk produced more than 5 million tons of coal last year, down by more than a million tons from 2014.