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Coal mines owned by Jim Justice plan to hire 150 in Kentucky

Coal News - Published on Wed, 11 Jul 2018

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Kentucky reported that coal companies tied to West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced plans to hire 150 employees at three surface mines in Eastern Kentucky. The mines two in Pike County and one in Letcher County have been inactive due to a decline in the coal market, according to a news release from Bluestone Industries, a coal company with ties to the Justice family. The company said it is accepting applications and plans to begin production immediately.

Mr Justice and his family own dozens of mining companies throughout central Appalachia and owe millions in unpaid property taxes to the Kentucky counties where they operate.

The largest outstanding bill is to Knott County, where the Justice-affiliated company Kentucky Fuel owed USD 1.95 million as of Monday. The company owes about USD 284,000 to Pike County, according to the county's delinquent tax office, and more than USD 200,000 to Harlan County, according to Harlan County Clerk Donna Hoskins.

In February, the Herald-Leader found that Justice companies owed a total of USD 2.9 million across Eastern Kentucky, shorting school systems and local governments in a region where many counties struggle with tight budgets and population loss.

Mr Justice, in an interview Monday with the Herald-Leader, said those companies have the right to dispute the tax bills in some cases, but "we’re not going to walk away from an obligation."

The addition of 150 jobs is welcome news in Eastern Kentucky, which has seen a sharp decline in coal jobs over the past decade.

According to data from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, the number of coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky fell from more than 13,600 in 2011 to just over 4,000 in 2017. In the first three months of 2018, that number slid to 3,835.

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Posted By : Joykumar Irom on Wed, 11 Jul 2018
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