To adjust its manufacturing operations to needed capacity and optimise its global footprint, Komatsu has announced it is closing its manufacturing plant in Bluefield, Virginia, and shifting that work to three other facilities in the company’s US network.
“These are truly unprecedented times and as a company we have had to adapt as best we can, working to balance capacity to demand,” said Peter Salditt, President of Underground Mining. “We have a long history in Bluefield and this was a very difficult decision that we are sad to make. The contributions of everyone who worked there, past and present, will always be a proud part of our history and we are working to support affected employees during this difficult time.”
The company plans to meet with bargaining unit representatives to discuss options for employees impacted by the closure. The company announced the decision to employees on January 11 and says it is committed to keeping them informed throughout the process.
Production work to support the company’s Joy continuous miner products for underground mining will immediately shift to Komatsu facilities in Duffield, Virginia; Lebanon, Kentucky; and Homer City, Pennsylvania. The company does not foresee any delays in production or impact on customer deliveries as a result of this change and Komatsu team members are working to provide a smooth transition for customers.
The Bluefield operations began in 1969 as Hart Electric – a division of Joy Mining Machinery. The facility specialised in motor repairs and motor coil manufacturing, as well as other services for the mining industry. In the mid 1970s, Joy purchased 15 acres of land in the Bluefield industrial park and constructed a 7,500 sq ft building to expand into different products. In 1976, the facility was opened, specialising in hydraulic and cutter drum repairs. In 1978, the current building was constructed, providing 90,000 square feet of floor space.
As Joy’s first service location, the facility was set up to provide aftermarket support for underground mining equipment including components, motors, motor coils and hydraulics. In 1982, the continuous miner rebuild program was introduced, further expanding the capabilities of the Bluefield facility.