GRAFTON, W.Va., Dec. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE:ACI) today announced that Tygart Valley's Leer mine in northern West Virginia has begun operating its longwall mining system, representing a major milestone in the development of the overall mining complex. The Leer mine is expected to ramp up production during the first quarter of 2014, and to produce more than 3 million tons of coal on an annualized basis thereafter. The majority of the output will be sold into domestic and international metallurgical coal markets for use in the production of steel. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120727/CG47668LOGO) "With the start-up of the longwall, the Leer mine is poised to become a world-class supplier of metallurgical coal and a cornerstone of Arch's Appalachian operations for many years to come," said John W. Eaves, Arch's president and chief executive officer. "We applaud the great work of the Leer team in completing this significant step, and we look forward to a safe, productive and profitable future for this important new mine." Arch has invested more than $400 million to develop the Leer mine, which produces a high-quality, high-volatile "A" coking coal product that is attracting significant interest in world metallurgical markets. With its talented 400-person workforce and highly efficient longwall system, the mine will benefit from a very competitive cost structure once it scales up to full production. "Our investment in the Leer mine underscores our commitment to West Virginia and our focus on producing the highest quality metallurgical coals to meet the needs of global steelmakers," said Eaves. "With the addition of Leer, we are advancing our long-term, strategic objective of increasing our penetration into domestic and seaborne coking coal markets." West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin congratulated Arch on the completion of the longwall installation. "Coal continues to be an important foundation for the economic growth of our state and the nation's primary source of energy," said Gov. Tomblin. "Arch Coal's investment in the Mountain State not only strengthens our coal industry, it helps create good paying jobs for hardworking West Virginians." Arch now operates six metallurgical and PCI-grade mines in Appalachia, including four in West Virginia. Arch also has significant undeveloped metallurgical coal reserves in the region that can support additional mine development in the years ahead. U.S.-based Arch Coal, Inc. is one of the world's top coal producers for the global steel and power generation industries, serving customers on five continents. Its network of mining complexes is the most diversified in the United States, spanning every major coal basin in the nation. The company controls more than 5 billion tons of high-quality metallurgical and thermal coal reserves, with access to all major railroads, inland waterways and a growing number of seaborne trade channels. For more information, visit www.archcoal.com. Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains "forward-looking statements" — that is, statements related to future, not past, events. In this context, forward-looking statements often address our expected future business and financial performance, and often contain words such as "expects," "anticipates," "intends," "plans," "believes," "seeks," or "will." Forward-looking statements by their nature address matters that are, to different degrees, uncertain. For us, particular uncertainties arise from changes in the demand for our coal by the domestic electric generation industry; from legislation and regulations relating to the Clean Air Act and other environmental initiatives; from operational, geological, permit, labor and weather-related factors; from fluctuations in the amount of cash we generate from operations; from future integration of acquired businesses; and from numerous other matters of national, regional and global scale, including those of a political, economic, business, competitive or regulatory nature. These uncertainties may cause our actual future results to be materially different than those expressed in our forward-looking statements. We do not undertake to update our forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by law. For a description of some of the risks and uncertainties that may affect our future results, you should see the risk factors described from time to time in the reports we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.