LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A longtime coal operator is planning to open seven mines in the heart of the eastern Kentucky coalfields in a venture expected to create more than 250 jobs.
Coal operator Bill Smith says most of the coal extracted in Pike County by his High Ridge Mining operation will go to China.
It's a business model that officials hope will rejuvenate the area's slumping coal industry.
Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford says he thinks the coal sector has "bottomed out," and that export markets in places like China and India will lead the recovery.
Officials expect Smith's new venture to draw large numbers of job applicants.
Mining jobs are traditionally among the highest paying in the coalfields.
The eastern Kentucky coal business has been struggling amid market and competitive challenges.