Miner Shortage Hits Coal Companies

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Mine operator Alpha Natural Resources
says it's giving gas money, free health insurance and other
incentives to attract and keep coal miners.

Chief Executive Mike Quillen says his Abingdon, Virginia-based
company wants to avoid labor shortages it experienced during the
last coal price spike in 2005 and 2006. Alpha, Richmond,
Virginia-based Massey Energy and other nonunion companies had a
tough time then keeping rivals from poaching experienced miners.

At $95 a ton for steam coal and more than double that for
metallurgical coal, mines are trying to up production again -- and
trying to retain and attract miners.

Alpha's also giving 25 shares of stock to each of its 3,600
employees in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
But Quillen says putting the equivalent of an extra $3 an hour in
their pockets through steps such as $30 a month for gas and cash
bonuses for not jumping ship should help the most.


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