AEP deal to boost employment at Southern Coal

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Roanoke-based Southern Coal Corp. said today it would reopen closed mines and hire hundreds of new miners as a result of a multiyear deal with American Electric Power.

Southern Coal said the AEP agreement would save 500 mining jobs and create 650 more in mines in Southwest Virginia, Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.

In Virginia, the company said 320 jobs will be saved while 270 new miners will be added.

The Virginia mines affected are the underground and surface mines of A&G Coal, 9 Mile Mining and VA Fuel Corp. located in Wise, Dickenson, and Lee counties,

“We believe that it is important to maintain a diversified fuel mix for power generation, and that coal needs to continue to be part of that mix,” Nicholas K. Akins, president and CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based AEP, said in a statement. “This project will not only provide a secure source of reasonably priced fuel for our power plants, but it also will help fuel economic growth throughout Southwest Virginia, Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky

Southern Coal said it will employ more than 1,700 people and produce 9 million tons next year from mines in Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell called the Southern Coal announcement “great news” for the commonwealth. “Coal is an important part of our ‘all of the above’ domestic energy strategy,” he said in a statement. “The coal industry powers our economy, and it provides good-paying jobs for our citizens.”

Southern Coal is operated by Jim and Jay Justice and owned by the Justice family. The Justices also own The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., and The Wintergreen Resort in Virginia.

Southern Coal moved its headquarters from Beckley, W.Va., to Roanoke last spring.

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