By Camille Erickson
May 28, 2020 - Nearly 100 furloughed miners returned to work at the Decker Coal Company on Tuesday, after over two weeks of unpaid time off, the company confirmed Thursday.
The Decker coal mine is located in Big Horn County in southern Montana just north of Wyoming’s border. Many of the employees live in Sheridan and commute across the border to the coal field.
Decker coal mine’s domestic customers temporarily stopped accepting coal shipments recently because of the downturn in demand for the commodity. However, shipments to customers have recommenced, according to a company spokeswoman. The majority of the workforce was sent home on May 8.
A slew of Powder River Basin coal mines have had to reduce their workforces in response to a decline in electricity demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 550 miners have been laid off or furloughed in the basin since March.
In addition, BNSF Railway, a company closely dependent on the coal industry, announced it will shutter two of its Wyoming facilities and lay off 130 workers in response to the declining coal market.
The Energy Information Administration, the country’s leading energy data agency, forecasts the U.S. will produce 25 percent less coal in 2020 than it did last year.