The Roaring Creek Coal Company is set to create 258 "high paying, stable, local" jobs for the area now that company leaders and several officials, including U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin broke ground Wednesday in Randolph County.
In the midst of stagnant economic recovery across the nation, Metinvest and United Coal Company is investing $150 million to make the Roaring Creek site, located near Ellamore, operational by January 2013. When the mine opens it's expected to annually produce 1.6 million tons of high quality metallurgical coal - used in steel production - per year, and more than $11 million in severance and excise tax.
"The impact of job creating from the Roaring Creek project will not only improve the quality of life for the hardworking men and women at the mine; but the impact will be felt by our friends neighbors and family members who own and work in the local businesses that will support the miners," said Rick Kim, Roaring Creek Coal Company project manager.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Lydia Nuzum
Several area, state and national leaders helped Metinvest-United Coal Company break ground on Roaring Creek Coal Company mine, located near Ellamore in Randolph County. Instead of actual ground, coal was shoveled to mark the occasion. From left, President of Carter Roag John Schroeder, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, United Coal Company President Michael Zervos, acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, President of West Virginia Coal Association Bill Raney, CSX director of coal facilities and origin sales Jack Burgess, representative to U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito Mary Elizabeth Eckerson, Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kate Reed and Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor.
Although the area had been mined previously, Kim explained that the land still holds "valuable resources to keep the economy strong."
Manchin, who had recently arrived in West Virginia from working on the debt ceiling deal in Washington, D.C., praise for those involved in the project and their leadership and vision that has enabled the mine to move forward.
"Government should be your partner, not your adversary," Manchin said. "I'm finding out that they talk a good game, but they sure can't walk the walk."
Manchin told the crowd that he and the entire West Virginia Congressional delegation is committed to the coal industry and will work to ensure it is protected.
"People in America don't really know what coal has done for them," Manchin said. "I will start going to the floor of the senate on a regular basis and telling the people what we have done - the coal, the coal miners, the heritage - to build this country. We have mined the coal that makes the steel that builds the guns and ships that defend the country; builds the factory that makes the country and creates the jobs that we all enjoy. Coal has done that because it's the only energy that we have had that has been dependable, reliable and affordable and it's right here in America."
Fifty percent of the coal mined at the Roaring Creek Coal Company will be shipped overseas, but Manchin said he would like to see all it remain in the U.S., but the economy has slowed construction and demand.
"I wish the demand for the steel market was so great that we needed every drop of coal ... staying here building the thinks we need in America," Manchin commented.
Tomblin, who has been a supporter of the coal industry, said that people do speak negatively of the coal industry; but thinks that the large crowd that gathered Wednesday afternoon knows the importance of the industry and the jobs it creates. He's also pleased that the company stresses safety, good environmental policies and supports its local community.
"This is the kind of company we like to have in West Virginia," Tomblin said.
Tomblin recalled when he participated in the ground breaking ceremony for Metinvest-United Coal's Affinity mine in Raleigh County in October 2010. Within the last month, Affinity began its operations.
"People are working and that's exactly what's going to happen here in Randolph and Upshur counties," Tomblin added. "Thank you so much to United and Metinvest for having the faith in West Virginia."
Tomblin added that he's looking forward to celebrating the first CSX train filled with coal rolling out of the Roaring Creek mine.
United Coal President Michael Zervos said he was pleased to break ground on a new operation just a few weeks after the Affinity mine opened.
Zervos reminded those in attendance that the preparation of the mine, though many vendors, will also help the job market and local businesses. Zervos explained that between the Affinity mine and the Roaring Creek site, approximately 500 jobs will be created; and by adding approximately 2,500 other jobs within the community, the two mines will support around 3,000 jobs.
"In today's world, in the state of West Virginia, 3,000 new jobs is a big deal and that's why we're here," Zervos said.
CSX will carry Jack Burgess, CSX director of coal facilities and origin sales, explained the coal from the Roaring Creek mine will be transported by CSX to destinations that will enable it to be carried throughout the world. In addition to creating new mining jobs for the Randolph County area, the loading and transportation of each train from the mine will support 20 jobs for those working with CSX Railroad.
"This great West Virginia Coal is essential to the industries that make steel and generate dependable and inexpensive energy," Burgess said. "I must compliment the United-Metivest team on their vision, leadership planning and coordination to shoulder the challenges associated with the development of a new coal facility, especially when so many people have lost sight of the great value of coal."
President of the West Virginia Coal Association, Bill Raney told the crowd that Metinvest and United Coal have the "faith, vision and confidence" to ensure the property goes into production.
"This is a good day for West Virginia, particularly here in north-eastern West Virginia, Randolph, Upshur and the surrounding counties," Raney said.
After about 17 months of work, the state's best metallurgical coal will be shipped throughout the word, Raney reminded the group.
"The best coal, produced by the best miners in the best state in the nation," Raney said. "It doesn't get any better than that."
Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kate Reed shared the organization's "excitement" for the new mine.
"It means so much for us in Randolph County," she said. "This is such a huge investment in the economy and the community and it will bring ... needed jobs to the area.
"We're so pleased there are companies like Roaring Creek and United Coal working so hard to make projects like this happen and promote the business development in our state."
Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor "grateful and pleased" to be the new home of the mine and it will provide a "stimulus" to new and existing businesses within the county.
"We thank United Coal, Roaring Creek Coal Company for choosing this site as for your new operation," Taylor said. "Your presence at Carter Roag has already had a significant impact on Randolph County. That operation has helped contribute $266,000 to the economy of Randolph County."
Mary Elizabeth Eckerson, representative to U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd District, said that Capito remains an advocate of the coal and intends to fight the assault on the coal industry.
"In these uncertain times, a ground breaking such as this is quite an accomplishment," Eckerson said on behalf of Capito.
Greetings from U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., were read by Raney.
"New jobs are certainly cause to celebrate today," Rockefeller's letter stated. "Especially more than 250 high paying jobs that will invigorate the local economy."
Metinvest is the parent company of United Coal and is an international, vertically integrated steel producer. It is the leading mining and steel industry company within the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Ukraine; and the 10th largest vertically integrated steel producer in the world, with manufacturing operations in Ukraine, Italy, UK and Bulgaria.
United Coal Company is a producer of metallurgical and steam coal from reserves located in the Central Appalachian region, and one of the leading metallurgical coal producers in the United States. Metinvest acquired United Coal Company in 2009.
Contact Carra Higgins by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.