BECKLEY, W.VA. -- Without fanfare, the Virginia-based CSX Corp., has shut down the last remnant of a coal company that once ranked among West Virginia's largest.
The Bonny Mine in Fayette County was closed permanently last Monday. The shutdown put about 130 union and management employes out of work, a spokeswoman said.
The mine, operated by CSX subsidiary Beckley Lick Run Co., was once a part of the New River Co., whose holdings were sold last year by the railroad transportation company.
The closing effectively takes CSX out of coal mining enterprises.
"It was not profitable," said spokeswoman Audrey Thomasson. "It will be closed and sealed."
Chester Bolen, president of Bonny's United Mine Workers local, said the closing wasn't unexpected, but that workers are hoping a new owner can be located.
"That's what we're hoping for," he said. "There's a few people who have looked at it. I don't know that it will happen."
An official at UMW District 29 headquarters blamed Bonny's demise on poor management, charging that CSX failed to improve or replace equipment.
"It was a relatively new mine but the equipment was old," the official said. "They just never reinvested the profits they made over the years back into the mine."
"I guess that was the biggest problem," Bolen concurred. "The equipment was old."
The local union president said between 98 and 102 UMW members were affected by the closing.
Bonny once belonged to a family of mines operated by New River Co., which CSX purchased several years ago. At its peak, the mining company employed more than 4,000 people while supplying 4.5 million tons of metallurgical coal annually to the nation's steel industry.
Started in 1904, New River by 1935 operated 11 mines in Raleigh and Fayette counties and three years later ranked No. 6 among West Virginia producers.
The remaining properties of New River, which formerly managed Bonny for Beckley Lick Run, were sold last year to the landholding company Mountain Laurel Resources.
That company is now "reclaiming" the idled Skelton and Siltex mining complexes, intending to resell the land for other use