Local impact as Peabody to closes mining facilities in Saline County, Ill.

Local impact as Peabody to closes mining facilities in Saline County, Ill.

SALINE COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - Peabody announced it will close the Arclar Complex in southern Illinois, which includes the Wildcat Hills Mine in Equality, Ill.

According to the company on Monday, October 14, the Complex is expected to cease production due to the “uneconomic mining conditions”. The company said it is “in discussions with customers to alternately meet their coal needs.”

The mine and processing facility are expected to move into closure and reclamation activities. The closure is scheduled for the middle of December.

This will affect about 225 workers at the Wildcat Hills Mine and the nearby coal processing facility.

This closure will not only impact employees and their families, but also companies around the Heartland, too.

Toy Dixon is a federally-certified independent coal mine instructor. For decades, he trains miners on safety and health. He said the 60 day letter was not a surprise, but it does concern him in the long term.

"It worries me a lot, especially with the obligations I’ve got, especially my two daughters in school. They are right where they need me the most. Enrollment has already went down…it went down probably eighty percent,” Dixon said.

Mike Thomas, the Dean of Workforce Education at Illinois Eastern Community College, said the school will see a shift due to the closure. His training department also cover Southeastern Illinois College and John A. Logan Community College. “Roughly $80,000 lost in funding,” he said.

Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek said it could have a major impact on the area because miners live, eat and shop throughout the county.

“It’s going to hurt our town ...big time," he said. “It really affects Harrisburg in a lot of ways -- in the restaurant businesses, our retail shops, they all shop at our Walmart, our Kroger, our Aldi, all of our local stores. Those are $25 - $30 an hour jobs, to lose that and the benefits that go along with it, it will impact a lot of families,” McPeek said.

According to the company it is working with employees and their families to minimize the impact. They say those who are interested and in good standing will be offered positions at other Peabody operations who have openings. Separation benefits will be offered to workers, along with outplacement assistance.

Wooded Hills Bar and Grill is a local restaurant in the heart of Harrisburg. On Monday around 11 a.m., miners came in to have lunch. The owner, Scott Stout that’s when he found out about their 60 days notices.

Scott said, “They said ‘hey Scott we just got our notice today, we are losing’--I’m going to start crying again -- ‘we are going to lose our job in 60 days’ and it broke my heart and teared me up. I hate it for them, just really hate it for them,” Stout said.

The Arclar Complex has operated in southern Illinois for more than 20 years and Wildcat Hills has been open since 2006.

The company said in a statement:

“Peabody continues to navigate through changing U.S. conditions driven by competition with natural gas and subsidized renewables. Our focus remains on safety, costs and volumes to maximize competitiveness.”

McPeek said, “My hope is for the coal companies to continue to look at southern Illinois, saline county for sure to coal business because we have plenty of coal here and we have the people that want to work.”

According to Peabody, the mine sold 1.4 million tons of coal in 2018.

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