- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2020

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A Montana coal mine announced 73 workers are expected to be furloughed until January in response to increasingly poor conditions in the coal market.

Decker Coal Company confirmed the furloughs at its mine near the southern Montana border with Wyoming Thursday, The Casper Star-Tribune reports.

The announcement marked the second time this year furloughs have been issued to workers at the mine in the Powder River Basin.

Decker furloughed 98 workers in May, although employees were returned to work by the end of the month.

The workforce reductions were caused by decreased demand for electricity resulting from a tightening economy and coronavirus stay-at-home orders, the company said.



“The majority of Decker’s domestic thermal coal is used to make electricity for manufacturing and other industrial activities that have been idled or reduced during the pandemic,” the company said in a statement.

Decker also experienced a drastic reduction in export sales this year, the company said.

The mine produced more than 640,000 tons (580,598 metric tons) of coal and employed 164 workers in the second quarter of this year, the U.S. Mining Safety and Health Administration reported.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some - especially older adults and people with existing health problems - it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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