Some Bailey Mine employees are back at work after Consol Energy temporarily laid off 200 miners earlier this month at the complex in Greene County.
Company spokesman Brian Aiello said he expects the company to “resume a full operational schedule” by early next week.
“That’s still a bit of a moving target as this is an unusual, unplanned move, but that’s our anticipation at this point,” he said in an email Monday.
The furloughs came in early February after the company had to make changes in its mining plan to abide by a state Environmental Hearing Board decision prohibiting it from mining beneath Kent Run at Ryerson Station State Park. As a result, the company had to move its longwall mining machine to a new longwall panel before it finishes mining all the coal in the existing panel.
“Due to the unexpected longwall move in an area of the mine not designed for recovery, additional safety precautions and unscheduled prep work caused the reduction in force until we were in a position to begin to move the longwall,” Aiello said. “That process has begun and the affected employees are being called back as necessary.”
Once that’s completed, Aiello said, they will be able to call back the rest of the furloughed employees. He did not say how many miners returned to work this week.
“We are hopeful that our leaders in Harrisburg will proceed responsibly with regard to policy decisions on this issue in the future so that we can avoid further and more permanent impacts to the workforce,” he said.
Consol has appealed the EHB decision issued Jan. 24 by hearing board Judge Steven Beckman, who prohibited the company from mining within 100 feet of the stream. The company claims that as a result of the move it will have to abandon about 350,000 tons of coal in the existing panel valued at about $15.3 million.
Consol had received a permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection to mine beneath the stream in December, but that permit was appealed by the Center for Coalfield Justice and Sierra Club after the environmental groups claimed the mining would damage the stream in violation of Clean Streams Laws.
The furloughed workers were notified of the temporary layoff Feb. 7. The mine employs about 360 workers.