PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- New High Ridge Mining announced plans Wednesday to reopen seven deep mines in Pike County.
The company is owned by long time coal operator Bill Smith, who is a former vice president of Sidney Coal.
Smith says the now idled mines are located across Pike County in Big Creek, Johns Creek and Pond Creek. He says each of the mines is set open with 36 employees.
The hiring process is expected to begin soon and will conducted by the Office of Employment and Training in Pikeville.
“We plan on mining a million tons a year,” Smith said. “The first train is loaded, I’ve put my heart and soul into this venture and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to offer jobs to the best miners in the world.”
According to a news release, Smith began making preparations for his new operation some time ago by leasing 100 million tons of Pike County coal in the Alma, Pond Creek and Cedar Grove seams and by securing the necessary permits that are required to begin production.
Smith also says most the coal that will be mined will be exported internationally.
“Every time our coal industry hits rock bottom, it’s not the big national companies that bring it back, it’s the local companies,” said Charles Carlton, Pike County Director of Energy and Community Development. “Mr. Smith had a vision a few years back and it is paying off here in 2013. (Smith) is taking advantage of the need for coal in foreign markets. This won’t be the last we hear about our coal being exported to Asia and Europe because the market for our coal is no longer domestic. Washington has killed our domestic market.”
“This isn’t the last time we will hear about the exporting of Eastern Kentucky coal to Asia and Europe,” Wayne T. Rutherford, Pike County Judge-Executive said. “Mr. Smith is ahead of the curve in creating this connection to the Asian and European markets. Coal has become out of fashion domestically due to unnecessary intense restrictions and regulations imposed on the coal industry by the federal government. The short term economic outlook for coal seems dismal, but due to the growth taking place in Asia, coal is needed to sustain it, making the long term outlook for Eastern Kentucky coal rather bright. Local coal operators such as Bill Smith possess the experience and knowledge to begin healing our ailing coal industry and the local economy. Due to Mr. Smith’s foresight, over 250 jobs are expected to be added in Pike County, which is the first step in the healing process and bringing back our signature industry.”
The Office of Employment and Training is at 138 College St. in Pikeville and can be reached at 606-433-7721 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.