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Peabody to lay off 250 employees, including 50 in St. Louis

St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis-based Peabody Energy announced that it doubled it profits in the last three months as higher global prices and demand for coal offset production disruptions blamed on devastating rains in Australia. (slprnews)

Peabody Energy is cutting about 250 corporate and regional positions.

The St. Louis-based company’s President and CEO Glenn Kellow made the announcement on Monday. The company expects to save $40- 45 million annually after the cuts go into effect.

"While we regret the impact that these actions have on employees, their families and communities, today’s announcement represents another necessary step to drive the company lower on the cost curve," said Kellow in a statement.

Fifty of the positions will be cut from corporate headquarters in downtown St. Louis. A spokeswoman said the employees would receive severance, extended benefits coverage and outplacement support to help with the transition. 

The layoffs are expected to take effect in the second quarter. Peabody Energy said it will also close offices in Evansville, Indiana and Gillette, Wyoming. The company also plans to adjust mine production in Australia.

"To remain most competitive in the current environment, Peabody is implementing a number of initiatives in the operational, SG&A, financial and portfolio management areas of our business," Kellow said.

Coal companies have struggled in recent years as natural gas prices remained low and more regulation over carbon emissions have been implemented. Patriot Coal, formerly headquartered in St. Louis, filed bankruptcy last month for the second time in just under two years.

Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) sent out a statement Monday asking what would happen to tax breaks given to the coal company. In 2010 the city of St. Louis approved a tax break to encourage the company to keep its headquarters in the city.

MORE said the tax incentives amounted to $61 million. However, the city has put the figure closer to $4 million.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.

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