ROANOKE, Va. — Southern Coal Corp. is recalling several hundred laid-off miners in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia and plans to hire 650 new workers.
Roanoke-based Southern Coal announced Tuesday that it had entered into a multiyear contract to supply coal to American Electric Power. The contract will allow it to restart mines idled earlier this year and to save 500 jobs.
Southern Coal is owned by the Justice Family, which includes Jim Justice, who also owns The Greenbrier resort.
“We are so happy to be able to save the jobs, and hire the 650 new miners, especially at this time of the year,” Jim Justice and his son, Jay Justice, said in the company’s news release. “We hope this will make the holidays a little better for those effected.”
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin hailed Tuesday’s announcement as good news for the workers and their states’ economies.
“(The) announcement is a victory for the hard working men and women and their families in the coal counties of Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia,” Beshear said. “The number of jobs saved and created by this multi-year agreement will benefit our region for generations to come.”
Tomblin said the contract meant 1,700 jobs for the region, and that it wuould have a large impact on communities’ continued economic growth.
McDonnell said coal was an important part of Virginia’s “all of the above” domestic energy strategy.
Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford received word that Southern Coal was going to resume mining and rehire around 150 Pike County coal miners.
He said that two permitted Pike County mines had received new orders for coal.
“By putting these miners who have been out of work for some time back on the job with high salaries it will boost our local economy,” Rutherford said. “Hopefully this is a sign that the trend of job loss in the coal mining industry is reversing. This is some good news.”
Charles Carlton, Pike County Office of Energy Director, added that, with the holidays approaching, the hirings would ease some of the financial burden on miners and their families, as well as be a significant economic boost to Pike County.
Southern Coal also has operations in Alabama and Tennessee. The company said it expects to produce 9 million tons of coal in 2013.