BECKLEY, W.Va. — Jim Justice, the Democratic candidate for governor, announced Thursday the reopening four metallurgical coal mines in southern West Virginia with a total headcount of 375 employees going to work.
Many of the mines were opened in the past month.
Bill Cole, his Republican opponent, says the Justice announcement is a political ploy.
“It’s a great day,” Justice said of the hundreds of underground and surface mining jobs returning to a region struggling by the decline in coal. His company, Justice Corp., estimates the reopened mines will employ 375 people, with about a third of those jobs having already been filled in the last month.
Jay Justice, executive vice president of the Justice Corp. and son of Jim Justice, responded by saying its understandable for people to be leery of the announcement with election day nearing, but plans to reopen the mines was in the planning for months.
He said four mines and a processing plant are in operation.
The Tams Surface Mine in Raleigh County is back, currently supporting 80 jobs. Of the 50 new coal mining jobs, 25 have been filled since the mine was reopened a few weeks ago. Also, there will be a total of 30 new coal truck jobs.
The Frontier Underground Mine in Wyoming County will hire 50 employees. So far, 20 miners were hired in the last month.
Approximately 50 mining jobs are slated for the Bishop Surface Mine in McDowell County. As of Thursday, 30 coal miners are already working.
Also in McDowell County, the Keystone Underground Mine will hire 50 people. A new mine that has never been operation is in the process of hiring miners.
The Keystone Coal Prep Plant in McDowell County is slated to fill 25 positions. The prep plant is reopening to clean coal in McDowell County. All of the 25 positions have been filled on the site.
“I’m very excited we are able to open these mines and put so many hard-working coal miners back to work,” he said. “MET coal has a bright future and that means more coal miners being able to provide for their families. We hope to fill these new openings as soon as possible.”
Jim Justice, said, “It makes me feel so good just to see our people to get their dinner bucket and get back to work.”
The company started working on a plan to reopen the mines about two months ago when met coal prices started to spike upward. The coal produced at reopened mines will be sold domestically and globally, he said, mainly in Asia and Europe.
Additionally, a surface mine in Raleigh County and an underground mine in Wyoming County will open in January, he said. Justice said those mines will employ a total of 120 miners.