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Alpha closing 8 mines, cutting 1,200 jobs in all

(AP) MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Coal producer Alpha Natural Resources says it's eliminating 1,200 jobs companywide, including 400 with the immediate closing of eight mines in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Chief Executive Officer Kevin Crutchfield says the layoffs begin with the mine shutdowns Tuesday. The rest will come by the end of the first quarter.

Crutchfield calls it a difficult decision but says it's a necessary part of shifting business away from U.S. power plants and toward overseas steel mills. Virginia-based Alpha will shift its focus from thermal coal, used in domestic power generation to metallurgical coal used in steelmaking.

Crutchfield also cites what he calls "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal."

He says the new business strategy will cut production by 16 million tons by early 2013.

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