Coal producer Alpha Natural Resources said it's eliminating 1,200 jobs company wide, including 400 with the immediate closing of eight mines in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
According to the Associated Press, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Crutchfield said the layoffs begin with the mine shutdowns Tuesday, while the rest will come by the end of the first quarter.
Crutchfield called it a difficult decision but said it's a necessary part of shifting business away from U.S. power plants and toward overseas steel mills.
The Virginia-based company will shift its focus from thermal coal, used in domestic power generation to metallurgical coal used in steel making.
Crutchfield also cites what he calls "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal."
He said the new business strategy will cut production by 16 million tons by early 2013.
As of Tuesday morning, there is no immediate word on which mines will be shut down first.
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