A Virginia contracting company has announced it is looking to hire about 800 people to work in mines in southeastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia.
The company, Professional Contracting, said the miners would go to work in three mines that were previously shut down in Harlan County, Ky. and another four in southeastern Virginia.
Eddie Estep, the project director with the company, said in the coming weeks his group hopes to have the permits needed in order operate the Harlan County mines.
Harlan County Judge Executive Joseph Grieshop said it is exciting news as his county competes with other coal communities in western Kentucky and western states.
"What this brings is hope to the county," he said.
Grieshop said last fall, coal company Alpha Natural Resources let go of about 400 workers in the region. He said he would like to see those employees go back to work before they find jobs elsewhere.
"They will be pulled out of our county, so then if your company does come and want to open up a mining operation, they will not have a reliable workforce with the proper training and skill set that they need to go back in the mines," Grieshop said.
Coal is big business in Harlan County. Grieshop said his county typically ranks either second or third in Kentucky for coal production. He said in 2009, coal miners collected about $120 million in salaries. The judge executive said miners could even end up using some of their dispensable income in the East Tennessee area.
"These hardworking folks do want enjoy life and they do want to contribute to the economy," he said.
More than 2,000 people have already applied for the jobs. If you would like to apply for a job, Professional Contracting asks that you go to its office in Norton, Virginia to fill out an application.