December 29, 2004
Massey reopens former Cannelton mine
By Paul Wilson
Massey Energy began production Tuesday at the former Cannelton Industries mine in Kanawha
County, according to the company.
"No coal has actually been shipped," said Katharine Kenny, a Massey spokeswoman. "We expect
to increase in production in 2005, but we're starting out slow, just like we said we would."
Only one shift of miners is working each day at the new Mammoth Coal Company, though the
company expects to increase that, Kenny said. She said she was unsure of an exact figure, but
guessed that fewer than 50 employees were at work Tuesday. That number should also increase
in the coming months.
The Mammoth miners are nonunion and replace about 200 members of the United Mine Workers
who worked the mine when bankrupt Horizon Natural Resources owned it.
Massey purchased the mine from Horizon earlier this year after a federal bankruptcy judge ruled
Horizon could scrap collective bargaining agreements and health benefits for active and retired
miners. Otherwise, the judge ruled, Horizon's assets could not have been sold.
The ruling drew sharp criticism from U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall,
among others, who said the move contradicts federal law requiring successor companies to take
on the legacy costs of predecessors.
When Massey bought the mine, UMW President Cecil Roberts said he could not imagine a more
terrible scenario. For years, the Richmond, Va.-based company has fought organization efforts
and bought union mines and replaced UMW members with nonunion workers.
For months, UMW members have demonstrated outside the mine near the Kanawha-Fayette
county line. UMW officials could not be reached for comment late Tuesday, but Roberts had
pledged that the UMW would engage in sit-down strikes or other actions if Massey reopened the
mine with nonunion workers.
The mine is expected to produce about 800,000 tons of coal next year, according to Massey
President Donald L. Blankenship. Massey is the country's fourth-largest coal company and the
largest in West Virginia.
To contact staff writer Paul Wilson, use e-mail or call 348-5179.
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