UPDATE 11/27/12 @ 10:16 p.m.
ROANOKE, Va. (WSAZ) -- There's renewed hope for hundreds of coal miners in West Virginia and Kentucky, and many families will be thankful.
Charles Bryant has three sons, all miners, and he’s fearful their jobs are in jeopardy.
"Well, they're going to lose their home if they lose their job, they're going to lose their new truck -- they have families, they can't support their families," Bryant said.
So Tuesday’s announcement that Southern Coal Corporation signed a multi-year contract to supply coal to AEP came as welcome news.
"We've got other things working to where helping out the economy here within our county," Logan County Commission President Danny Godby said. "But still yet, coal is the number one measure that really helps our people."
The WV-3 Surface Mine in Logan County is one of the mines affected.
In all, the contract will save 500 jobs and add another 650 in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia.
"We can't make it without it; we don't have nothing else. We've got coal -- that's all we got," Bryant said.
And the announcement couldn’t come at a better time of year.
"We see so many people that our downtrodden, and hopefully this will pick their lives up and especially at this time of year, the Christmas season where they can give their family a real good gift," Godby said.
The mines in Kentucky affected by the contract are operated by Kentucky Fuel Corporation in Pike and Knott counties.
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The Roanoke-based company announced Tuesday that it has entered into a multi-year contract to supply coal to American Electric Power. The contract will allow it to restart mines idled earlier this year, saving 500 jobs.
The company is owned by the Justice family, which includes Jim Justice, who also owns The Greenbrier resort
In a statement, the Justice's said that they hope the announcement makes the holidays "a little better" for those affected.
"This announcement is wonderful news to the entire Mountain State, said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. "America is the greatest nation the world has ever known, and that nation runs on coal. The commitment from the Justice Family, Southern Coal and AEP not only means 1,700 jobs for our region-but it also will have a tremendous impact on continued economic growth in the surrounding tri-state communities.'"
"Today's announcement is a victory for the hard working men and women and their families in the coal counties of Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia. The number of jobs saved and created by this multi-year agreement will benefit our region for generations to come,” Said Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.
Southern Coal said that 650 new miners will be hired over the coming weeks.
In West Virginia, the mines are in Logan County. This is also where the new hires will happen, according to a company spokesperson.
In Pike County, Ky., two mines will be restarting putting 150 people back to work, according to the Pike County Judge Executive.
Southern Coal employs more than 1,700 people directly, and produced 9 million tons of coal in 2012 from mines in Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama.
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