BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) – A Ukrainian-owned, Johnson City-based coal company with facilities in Buchanan County, Virginia has filed seven WARN Notices through the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC).
The VEC’s online list of WARN Notices states all seven of the layoffs were filed by Wellmore Energy Company, LLC. on July 11 and set to take impact on Sept. 10. The layoffs affect facilities in Big Rock, Grundy and Hurley.
Wellmore is a subsidiary of United Coal Co. , which itself is owned by Metinvest, a Ukrainian energy and steel company with vast global metallurgical and thermal coal holdings. Metinvest purchased United in 2009.
In total, 135 employees are expected to be impacted by the layoffs. The vast majority of those are listed as working at three mine locations — 58 at the Elk Creek surface mine in Hurley and 59 combined at the Paw Paw 2 mine’s north and south locations. Paw Paw 2 is a deep mine. United’s website shows both began operating in 2019.
Matthew Hill directs Buchanan County’s Industrial Development Authority. He told News Channel 11 that the Wellmore layoffs could very well be temporary and that coal companies regularly scale back and then rehire due to market fluctuations.
Hill said he hadn’t yet heard from the company whether the layoffs are temporary, but he added that the new Coronado mining operation and other employers in the county mean there are plenty of jobs available.
News Channel 11 has reached out to Wellmore Energy Company and United Coal Company for more information on the pending layoffs. The United website states that a total of 389 people work for Wellmore, which has seven contract mines in addition to two company-operated deep mines (Paw Paw being one) and one company-operated surface mine (Elk Creek).