By Will Wade
Consol Energy Inc. has idled a Pennsylvania mine after two workers tested positive, and Alliance Resource Partners LP is shuttering all of its operations in Illinois as the deadly virus drags down the global economy.
The announcements Monday come as the pandemic has rapidly expanded across the U.S., where the death toll is now expected to reach at least 100,000 people in the coming weeks. Coal miners are especially at risk, given their close working conditions in underground mines and locker rooms. Last week the United Mine Workers of America asked the Mine Safety and Health Administration to issue a set of national guidelines addressing that risk.
“The unprecedented decision by world leaders to lock down the global economy to combat the deadly virus has crushed demand for energy,” Alliance said in a statement. “All Americans are having to adjust to a way of life none of us could have imagined two months ago.”
The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based miner is also withdrawing its 2020 financial guidance and cutting its cash distribution for unitholders for at least the first quarter. The company said in January it expected to sell 36.8 million to 38.8 million tons, but it now says the figure will be about 25% lower.
Consol has idled its Bailey mine for two weeks after learning last week that two employees tested positive for Covid-19. It’s checking to see if other workers are at risk and performing a deep cleaning of the facility, according to a statement.