The layoffs of 134 coal mine workers at U.S. Fuel Co. mine at Hiawatha could raise the unemployment figures for Carbon County by one percentage point.
Larris Hunting, Price Job Service manager, said the county now has an unemployment rate of 5.9. This compares with 4.2 for the state and 6.8 percent nationally.Hunting said effects of the layoff, scheduled for April 19, will probably not be felt until next month, because many of the workers have accumulated vacation pay.
While there are not many mining jobs available right now, Hunting said, "we are looking forward to a good construction season, and there may be some other types of jobs."
U.S. Fuel Co. officials said the layoffs became necessary because of adverse mining conditions and poor coal quality.
The company will continue to fill long-term contracts with Nevada Power Co. and the Intermountain Power Agency by using stockpiled coal and coal produced by the remaining employees.
Mike Watson, superintendent of surface operations, estimates the company has 75,000 tons of coal stockpiled. The long-term contracts represent about 15 percent of the company's production.
The adverse conditions encountered in the mine included a thin coal seam and a large amount of ash and sulfur in the coal.
Although the company has other reserves, current coal prices are too low to warrant their development. The price is just under $20 per ton.
U.S. Fuel Co. has been in operation since 1915 when four coal companies were combined to form the company. Some coal has been produced in the area since the late 1800s, Watson said. Through 1950, the mine was one of the area's larger producers.