CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A coal producer has given notice that it plans to lay off 65 workers in southern West Virginia in March.

Panther Creek Mining LLC issued the layoff notice for its operations in Eskdale, the Kanawha County Commission said in a news release Tuesday.

Panther Creek was part of Lexington, Kentucky-based Blackhawk Mining's purchase of a substantial amount of bankrupt Patriot Coal's assets through a 2015 auction.

“Recent weakness in global coal markets, and the corresponding drop in prices to multi-year lows, is the reason for the Company's decision,” Blackhawk said in a news release.

Blackhawk said employees will be encouraged to apply for open positions elsewhere in the company.

"Our coal miners have been the backbone of West Virginia for over a century, risking their lives every time they go to work," Kanawha County commissioner Ben Salango said in the commission's statement. “We must find ways to create new jobs in our area to help support these families and grow our economy.”

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