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Alpha to idle underground coal mine in W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Alpha Natural Resources is planning to idle an underground mine in Boone County.

About 160 workers will be affected by the closure of Alpha subsidiary Independence Coal's Justice No. 1 Mine near Uneeda and a related cutback of operations at the nearby Liberty Processing Plant.

A spokeswoman for the Bristol, Va.-based company said Friday that officials will meet with miners next week to discuss pay and benefits for those impacted.

The Saturday Gazette-Mail reports ( ) that the company cited low prices for steel-making coal for the move.

Alpha acquired the mine when it purchased Massey Energy in June 2011. Federal records show the mine produced about 750,000 tons of coal last year.

The mine also was targeted for increased safety enforcement after the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion.

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