Lehigh Anthracite Coal furloughed 22 of its employees last Friday, citing "economic conditions" as the reason for the layoff.

All of the affected workers were employed in the breaker, which is located in Tamaqua.

Company President Richard "Rusty" Taylor stressed the layoff was temporary and would be "evaluated on a month-by-month basis."

Taylor explained the company found itself with a "fairly large volume of raw coal" near the end of 2013, which meant a layoff for the miners who were extracting the coal from the ground.

Instead of laying everyone off, "Lehigh Anthracite decided to have the breaker employees work through January and February, processing the raw coal. Now that the coal has been processed, and our current orders have been filled, we need to work with our customers as to what direction we need to take next," continued Taylor.

The mining operation had been running 20 hours a day on the 8,000-acre property originally known as the Lehigh Coal Mine Company.

Over its more than 200 year history, the mines and breaker changed hands several times, owned by Josiah White's Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company; the Fazio Brothers in the 1960s; and Bethlehem Steel (Bethlehem Mines) from 1974 to 1989.

James Curran purchased the company in 1989, re-establishing the LC&N brand. In 2008, Curran filed for bankruptcy.

His largest creditors purchased LC&N's assets, hoping to recoup some of their investment, creating a joint venture between BET and Robindale Energy Services. Operations resumed in June of 2011.

Approximately 38 employees are still working, including office staff and at the mine site.