The Richmond operations of Massey Energy, one of the city's oldest companies, will be shut down by its new owner, Alpha Natural Resources.
Massey and its predecessor companies have had a presence in Richmond for 92 years. Since 1950, Massey has been headquartered at a black and gray building at Fourth and Main streets. Bristol-based Alpha Natural Resources, which purchased Massey in June 2011, is closing the Richmond office as a cost-cutting measure.
Operating for decades as A.T. Massey, the company became Massey Energy when it was spun off in 2000 by its former parent, Irving, Texas-based Fluor Corp.
Throughout the last two decades, Massey was led by chief executive Donald Blankenship, an accountant whose in-your-face style and cost-cutting became notorious with environmental groups and labor unions. Under Blankenship's leadership, Massey's board meetings, which often were held at the Jefferson Hotel, became a magnet for protestors from ecological and shareholder-rights groups.
The nation's fourth-largest coal producer was forced to sell to Alpha Natural Resources more than year after its allegedly sloppy and unsafe oversight of its Upper Big Branch coal mine in Montcoal, W.Va., led to an explosion that killed 29 miners, the worst mining accident on U.S. soil in 40 years.
The 56,000-square-foot Massey Building has been on the block since February. Alpha announced the shutdown along with closures of other satellite operations in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Maryland.
The company plans to close the Richmond office by year end, a spokesman for Alpha says, affecting approximately seven employees.