FAIRBANKS—Usibelli Coal Mine plans to halt coal exports for the rest of 2015, citing a drop in global coal prices.
Aurora Energy Services, a UCM subsidiary that operates the Seward Coal Loading Facility, announced the move Tuesday in a news release. The facility will remain idle for the rest of the year because low coal prices have led to a decrease in Alaska exports, according to the release.
Alaska coal exports reached a peak in 2011, when 1.2 million tons were shipped to Chile, South Korea and Japan. Healy-based UCM is the only operating coal mine in Alaska.
Aurora Energy Services General Manager Rod Brown stated that a global oversupply of coal, as well as the strength of the U.S. dollar, has created less demand and a price drop for Alaska coal.
Coal exports have decreased each year since 2011. This year, about 150,000 tons were shipped to Japan from the Seward facility.
Company officials met with employees Tuesday to discuss the process for idling the Seward Coal Loading Facility and making an undisclosed number of layoffs. A "small crew" will remain at the facility for the rest of the winter, according to the news release.
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