Miners, lawmakers rally to save Wyoming County mine

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PINEVILLE, W.Va. (WVVA) Pressure is mounting on the owner of Wyoming County’s biggest mine two days after the company filed for bankruptcy. Pinnacle miners responded to the move Tuesday by hosting a rally at the Caterpillar Complex in Pineville.

Among those who turned out was Elizabeth Jackson, one of six female coal miners at the mine. She is also a single mom worried about how she will be able to find a job that will allow her to pick up her kids from school.

“We were counting on that ten years of coal still left in the ground. In six years, my kids will be grown. They could have had a whole different future.”

Another Pinnacle Coal Miner, Randy Howerton, has eleven grandchildren counting on him. “Pawpaw’s gotta be able to help them at Christmas. I’m pissed off. The whole time they’ve been here (Mission Coal), they’ve lied to us. This is going to be devastating on our families.”

Sen. Richard Ojeda, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House Third District participated in Tuesday’s rally, calling on  Governor Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia, to step up involvement.

“Everybody knows me and him are like oil and water. But Governor Justice, if you can make a phone call and stop this, please do. These people need to feed their families.”

In an interview with Gov. Justice Tuesday in Beckley, he told WVVA News he has been in direct talks with Mission Coal. He said he was told by the company the cost of operations at the Pinnacle mine right now is prohibitive even in a fabulous marketplace. Still, he said the owners are considering keeping the cleaning plant  which would keep up to 50 jobs.

“The best part is there are still significant reserves that are still in the mine that can be mined. They’re looking for a buyer that would underpin the jobs existing today. In addition to that, they may have another re-look at that themselves. There’s still hope for those miners.”

Regardless of the outcome, the governor said he is working with the Dept. of Commerce to make sure the mine’s nearly 400 employees do not go without work.

Annie Moore

Annie Moore

Multimedia Journalist

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