LINTHICUM HEIGHTS, Md. (AP) ¿ Mine operator Foundation Coal Holdings Inc. on Friday said its Central Appalachian affiliates are slashing production levels to meet current demand and laying off 60 workers.

The company's affiliate Kingston Resources is adjusting production at the Kingston mine to reflect lower shipments year-to-date and reduced demand for the rest of the year. Foundation's affiliated surface mining operations are also cutting production due to scaled back demand amid tough economic conditions.

"These production cuts are within the range anticipated in the revised shipment guidance provided on our first quarter earnings call and do not change our expectations for full year 2009 shipments," said James Roberts, chief executive.

In the company's first-quarter earnings report at the start of the month, Foundation estimated full-year coal shipments between 70 million and 73 million tons.

Earlier this month Foundation was acquired by Alpha Natural Resources Inc. for $1.4 billion in an all-stock deal that would create the nation's third-largest coal producer.

Citing the deal, Roberts added, "Following the completion of our merger with Alpha Natural Resources, the combined company will stand ready to increase production when demand growth resumes and will be positioned to deliver future growth with an industry-leading balance sheet and liquidity position."

Shares of Foundation closed at $29.20 on Thursday. Alpha shares closed at $27.57.
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