- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The state’s only working coal mine is facing waning exports and production.

Usibelli vice president of external affairs Lorali Simon says no coal is expected to ship at all this year to Chile or South Korea, two of the company’s three foreign customers, the Alaska Dispatch News reported (https://bit.ly/1Mu2qiT ).

“We expect to continue to see softening in the export market, but we’re still looking for opportunities,” she said.

Coal exports reached a peak in 2011 at 1.2 million tons for Usibelli. That was before South Korea implemented a tax on imported coal and a mine opened in Chile, which had been the company’s biggest foreign consumer.

By 2014, exports had fallen to less than half the level reached in 2011.



Production may also fall for a sixth straight year. The mine produced 2.2 million tons of coal in 2010, but 1.5 million in 2014.

Simon said three years of workforce reductions will likely continue. The mine employed 143 people in 2012, but 2014 data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration says that number dropped by 15 percent.

Many mine employees live in the town of Healy. Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker said the community’s economy is very strong.

“The economy in the local area hasn’t been palpably affected by a production decline,” Walker said. “You can tell there’s no growth as far as mining jobs, but we’ve had some growth with tourism coming back and our second power plant coming online.”

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Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com

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