SOMERSET, Colo. (KKCO) A huge number of coal miners in Somerset are looking for new jobs after a massive layoff this week. Oxbow Mining Company laid off 150 employees in a region where many depend on the coal industry to maintain their livelihood.
Paul Guzman has been working at Oxbow mining for 13 years. He was only a couple years away from retirement when he lost his job, but he says the news didn't come as a surprise.
"You never know what's going to happen with the coal mine. I was in Utah for 23 years and thought that I would never get laid off there, I was pretty secure. They had a fire and laid off everybody," said Guzman.
A fire is exactly what stemmed the layoffs at Oxbow. The Executive Vice President at Oxbow Mining says in January a fire sparked underground. They were able to contain the blaze by sealing it off, but they were unable to recover the mining equipment. The loss of the equipment was a costly one to the company, and as a result 150 people lost their positions.
"A lot of the guys didn't take it good, but ya know, myself, I'm in a good position, where I'm at. I'm 62-years-old, I'm ready to retire, but some of the younger guys, they've got young kids, house payments," says Guzman.
Guzman says the fire at Oxbow could have happened to any mining company. An unfortunate incident, forcing him into early retirement. But a positive outcome came out of the negative situation.
Guzman and his wife, Niki, will be moving closer to their grandchildren.
"Be closer to them, where now we've been going back and forth. We miss out on all the football games, basketball games, baseball games, so we get to be a part of that now," says Niki Guzman.
Mike Ludlow, the Executive Vice President of Oxbow Mining, says the employees that were laid off were issued typical departing papers, not confidentiality agreements. And he says, going forward, the company plans to mine and effort another mining system so Oxbow can possibly hire again.