Patriot Coal reducing production

Patriot Coal Corp. (NYSE: PCX) on April 20 said it plans to further reduce thermal coal production. Patriot said the decision is in response to continued weakness in market demand.

Patriot disclosed the planned idling of the Freedom underground mine and gave 60-day notice today to affected employees.  The Freedom mine is near Henderson, Ky., and produced 1.2 million tons of thermal coal in 2011.

Patriot said it will now have no remaining uncommitted Illinois Basin thermal coal for 2012 delivery.

"Thermal coal markets remain weak as a result of the mild winter, coupled with low natural gas prices and reduced demand for electricity related to the economic downturn.  We are taking this step to align production with committed sales," stated Patriot Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bennett K. Hatfield.

During the first quarter of 2012, Patriot idled three Central Appalachian thermal coal mines that together produced about 1.2 million tons in 2011. In total, including the Freedom idling and the closure of the Big Mountain complex, Patriot said its annual thermal production has been reduced by more than four million tons compared with 2011.

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