Official Says Two Pike County Coal Mines Will Restart Production

A coal company plans to restart production at two mines in eastern Kentucky.

Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne Rutherford says 150 coal miners in his county will soon go back to work, but he can’t say for which company.

Rutherford was told the miners had worked at two idled mines in the county, but the company is still working on permits and doesn’t want to make the news public yet. Even so, Rutherford hailed the news as a sign that more coal jobs will be returning to eastern Kentucky.

So we’re elated that we’re able to see that the coal jobs are coming back,” he said. “Coal is always going to be king. They have to have it and I think it’s going to level off, not at 50 percent of what they use in the country to generate electricity and so forth, but I think it’s going to level off at about 38 percent.”

Rutherford speculated that the interest in reopening the mines could be for export reasons. As I’ve reported before, this year is expected to be a record one for coal exports, but as of October 22 the first shipment in that big Kentucky-India coal deal hadn’t yet been scheduled.

The coal industry in the eastern part of the state has been hurt badly this year by low natural gas prices and upcoming environmental regulations, as more power plants switch over to the cleaner fossil fuel. Analysts predict coal production in Appalachia will continue to decline, though coalfields in the western United States will increase production.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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