Mining company Coal River Mining and Coal River Processing plans to close five mines and other support operations in Alum Creek and Julian regions of West Virginia, US, cutting 280 jobs.

Coal River Mining said it is idling operations due to the weak demand for coal and tougher regulations set by the US Government.

The redundancies are planned for implementation from early October.

Three underground mines could be affected by the decision, including Fork Creek Mine 3 and Fork Creek Mine 10 near Alum Creek.

"It’s going to cost us a little more…in order to preserve our industry. Because if this industry disappears from West Virginia you’re talking about an economic mess."

The company will also close two surface mines, including Surface Mine 67 and the Surface Mine 9 near Julian, a coal processing facility and related warehouse and office facilities.

Kanawha County commissioner Kent Carper was quoted by as saying: "This is yet another difficult blow to the hard working men and women of West Virginia.

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"Tragically, these layoffs impact more than miners. They will adversely affect family members, communities and businesses throughout our region.

"The continued loss of coal mining jobs, in Kanawha and the surrounding counties, is unacceptable and must come to an end."

Coal River managing member Jim Bunn II said: "Despite having issued the WARN notice, we will continue to try to find a market for our coal, in hopes that we can avoid some or all of the workforce reductions and the idling of some of our operations.

"We cannot change all of the various issues that affect our industry, but we can focus on our personal safety and the safety of our co-workers."

The layoffs come two weeks after several coal producers in the region, including Alpha Natural Resources, announced job cuts due to weak coal price and tougher regulations set by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which are intended to discourage coal-fired power plants in the country.

West Virginia Coal Association president Bill Raney said: "It’s going to cost us a little more to do things at the power plants in order to preserve our industry.

"Because if this industry disappears from West Virginia you’re talking about an economic mess."