Workers at the Pinnacle Mine, along with the rest of Wyoming County, got a reprieve last week when it was announced that the new management at Cliffs Natural Resources has decided not to idle the mine on Aug. 25.
“This is like a breath of fresh air and the sun is shining,” said County Commissioner Silas Mullins.
“My first reaction is that a lot of prayers have been answered,” he noted. “This was going to affect a lot of people in Wyoming County. Not only the coal miners themselves, but the people whose lives depend on the coal mines.
“This could have had a devastating effect on the the economy of the whole county,” Mullins added.
The commission will continue to be conservative in its approach to spending, he indicated.
“I think this is a sign of times to come,” Mullins said. “As we depend the coal economy, there will be ups and downs.
“There will be a next time, and we may not be so fortunate,” he pointed out.
“We have to be good stewards of what we do have,” the commissioner noted. “We try to be conservative with the county’s money so that will be able to weather the stormn (when it happens).”
Cliffs announced last Thursday that Laurenco Goncalves had been appointed as chairman, president and CEO by the company’s board of directors.
The company also announced that it had reversed a decison by previous management to idle the mine later this month.
“Cliffs announced that we will not not be idling the mine on Aug. 25 as contemplated by the WARN notice filed earlier this summer,” said Ryan Thorn, public affairs director Cliffs’ North American Coal Division. “This is great news for over 500 employees at our Pinnacle Mine and we look forwared to continuing safe and efficient mining operations.”
Goncalves replaces Jim Kirsch, chairman since July 2013, and Gary Halvorsen, CEO since February of this year.
Goncalves has 30 years of experience in the metals and mining industries and extensive board experience in the U.S. and abroad. He has a Master of Science degree in Metallurgical Engineering and a Bachelor’s degree in Metallaurgical Engineering from schools in Brazil.
“It’s a good day for us right now,” Mullins remarked. “We hope this lasts for a while and continue for a long time to come.”
John Conley can be reached at 304-732-6060 or on Twitter @PIHnews.