U.S. Markets closed

Alliance Resource Partners to close Kentucky mine

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Coal miner Alliance Resource Partners L.P. said Friday that it plans to close a Kentucky mine in December and cut 142 jobs at the site due to weak demand for coal.

The Pontiki mine has operated for 36 years. It was temporarily idled last year for about three months following a closure order by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The company said it knew the market outlook was uncertain when it reopened the mine last year, but remained hopeful that conditions would improve. But it said Friday that market conditions remain weak and the company has been unable to secure new sales contracts beyond 2013.

Coal companies been struggling with weaker demand due to stiffer federal regulations on the horizon and cheap natural gas prices, which has lured away some of its power company customers.

Alliance Resource Partners continues to work on projects in the Illinois Basin and Northern Appalachia, and that the company is evaluating options to provide employment opportunities to Pontiki personnel at sites in those regions.

The Tulsa, Okla.-based company does not expect that closing the mine will significantly change its financial results for the year.

Shares of Alliance Resource Partners fell $2.07, nearly 3 percent, to close at $74.73 Friday and were unchanged in after-hours trading following the announcement.