Coal mining jobs may finally be on the rebound in Harlan County.
At least two Harlan mines are reportedly going back into production in the near future.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop said Daniel Bunn, of Bunn coffeemakers, is behind the reopenings.
According to Eddie Joe Estep, project director for Bunn, the paperwork is currently being finalized that will put approximately 800 people back to work across the Kentucky and Virginia coalfields.
“We’ve had about 1,000 Harlan people come in and put in applications,” said Estep.
Estep said the jobs available will involve the day-to-day operations of running a mine.
“We’re going through the applications and we’re going to try to get the drug testing done in the next two weeks then bring everybody in for orientation,” said Estep.
Grieshop said he expects up to 350 Harlan workers to be on the job soon.
“I was over there last week to see what we could do to help them,” said Grieshop. “Jim Roddy and I went over there to see what we could do as county government to help. The good news is it appears it’s the Alpha mines that are currently vacated here in Harlan County and some mines over in Virginia. Two mines over here. That would give us the potential to put quite a few people back to work.”
Grieshop said the mines have been kept in pretty good shape since they were shut down.
“They have been keeping them in good shape with a skeleton crew,” said Grieshop.
According to Grieshop, the number of jobs should increase later.
“The 350 number is probably a starting point and they’ll grow from there,” said Grieshop. “Bunn said through Mr. Estep that he wanted to put unemployed miners back to work, and that’s good news. If it takes awhile to ramp up, I understand. That’s logical. The goal here is to put thousands of miners back to work over time.”
Grieshop said the employment opportunities come at a good time for Harlan County.
“This is really good news because it wouldn’t be too much longer before we would begin to lose those skilled workers to other regions of the coal industry,” said Grieshop. “Once that occurs, we’re not too likely to get them back. That makes it much more difficult at that time to restart a mining operation if you don’t have skilled workers. This is extremely good news that this is occurring right now.”
Applications are currently being taken at 850 Park Avenue Northwest, Norton, Va., across from the AT&T relay center.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or email@example.com