Arch Coal, Inc. reported a net loss of $295 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, but not because of poor performance by its mines in Utah and Colorado.
Just the opposite. In what the St. Louis-based company calls its "Western Bituminous Region," Arch earned a record cash margin of $18.68 per ton in the fourth quarter, largely because its expenses per ton of coal were reduced by 20 percent.
Arch Coal's Western region includes one mine in Colorado (West Elk) and three in Utah Sufco, Skyline and Dugout Canyon. Operated by Arch's subsidiary, Canyon Fuel Co., the Utah mines are by far the state's largest producer and employer. Together, they yielded more than 9 million tons of coal in 2012 and provided employment to 724 people at year's end, according to data on the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) website.