Walter Energy will idle its coal operations in British Columbia in April 2014, affecting approximately 700 employees due to lower prices and difficult market conditions.

The Wolverine mine located near the district municipality of Tumbler Ridge will be idled effective immediately while the Brazion mine expects to idle the mine by July 2014.

Located near the district municipality of Chetwynd, the Brazion mine includes the operations of Brule and Willow Creek and will continue to operate the Brule mine.

Preparation plants at these mines will continue to operate to complete processing of coal that already has been mined and is in inventory.

The company will temporarily lay off approximately 415 employees at the Wolverine mine and approximately 280 employees at Brazion, as well as other administrative support staff.

In order to operate the preparation plants a limited number of employees will be retained at each site and once coal processing is complete they will perform ongoing equipment maintenance and provide ongoing security for the sites during the idle period.

Walter Energy chief executive officer Walter Scheller III said that the layoffs are unfortunate since the employees have worked hard to keep these mines competitive even in the daunting market conditions.

"These coal reserves remain valuable assets," Scheller III adding that the Brule mine completed 2013 without any reportable safety incident.

"However, given the current met coal pricing environment, our best course of action at this time is to idle these operations until we can achieve reasonable value from these reserves."

In the second quarter of 2014, the company would incur severance charges of approximately $7m in connection with the idling of the mines.