HARRISBURG, Ill. - A top administrator in the southern Illinois county where plans to close a coal mine will cost 400 jobs says the move is another hit to a region already struggling with high unemployment.
St. Louis-based Peabody Energy announced Tuesday it will permanently close its Willow Lake Mine near Harrisburg in Saline County. The company cited the mine's failure to meet acceptable standards for safety, compliance and performance.
Saline County Board Chairman Jay Williams calls the news so close to Christmas "heartbreaking." He says the job losses will have a ripple effect throughout the region, given that many of the mine's workers commute from neighboring counties as well as Indiana and Kentucky.
The county's unemployment rate was 8.6 percent last month, slightly higher than the state average. That's not seasonally adjusted.