PRINCETON - Princeton-based Gibson County Coal LLC has notified the state it will be laying off 185 employees, mostly coal miners, as it shuts down production at the Gibson North Mine.

Gibson Coal, a subsidiary of Oklahoma-based Alliance Resource Partners LP (Nasdaq: ARLP) blames the layoffs on deteriorating export markets for its coal.

The company issued a federally required Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice to the state and its workers after deciding to idle production at the mine.

"A substantial portion of production from the Gibson Complex has been dedicated to supplying the international coal markets," said Joseph Craft, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Alliance Resource Partners. "The export markets have deteriorated over the last seven months and have contributed to an oversupplied domestic market.”

The company says the Gibson North mine produced approximately 1.7 million tons of coal through October 31. The company did not say if the layoffs affect workers at the Gibson South mine in Owensville.

ARLP currently produces coal in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and West Virginia. 

“Although we anticipate coal markets will improve, predicting when a rebound may occur is difficult and led to our actions today,” said Craft. “Until conditions improve, this production response at the Gibson North mine allows ARLP to adjust volumes from the Gibson Complex to meet current demand expectations at the lowest cost possible. 

The WARN notice says the company expects the layoffs will occur January 15 and will be permanent.

The anticipated layoffs include four office employees, two surface shops/yards employees, nine prep plant workers, and 169 underground employees.

Gibson Coal says affected employees do not have bumping rights, nor are they represented by a union.

In the company’s October quarterly financial report, ARLP reported lower coal sales volumes and prices for the third quarter. "Coal sales volumes declined 7.5% to 9.3 million tons due primarily to lower export sales from our Gibson South mine and reduced volumes from our Dotiki mine,” said the company in the Q3 report.

The company shut down its Dotiki Mine in Webster County, Kentucky in August, citing weak market conditions.

ARLP also operates a coal loading terminal on the Ohio River at Mount Vernon, Indiana.