Work begins on new coal mine in western Ky.

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Associated Press

Posted on July 4, 2013 at 9:01 AM

BEECH GROVE, Ky. (AP) — A Lexington company says it has begun work on a coal mine in western Kentucky that is expected to begin production next year and eventually employ up to 250 miners.

Rhino Resource Partners Vice President Chad Hunt told the Messenger-Inquirer (http://bit.ly/12FxJke) that the company is excavating at the site where the Riveredge Mine will be located in McLean County on the Green River.

"Our excavation will be taking place most of the rest of the year," Hunt said. "We expect to be running coal by June of next year.

"Initially, we'll have about 67 people employed. Depending on the market and other factors, the mine is set to go up to 225 to 250 people," Hunt said. "That's over the course of about three years."

The company's vice president of investor relations, Scott Morris, said median income at the mine is expected to be around $24 per hour.

"We're going to be very competitive from a wage standpoint with other producers in the area and in the Illinois basin," Morris said.

Hunt said the company aims to produce 800,000 tons of coal the first full year of operation in 2015. He said that amount is expected to expand to about 2 million tons per year as the mine grows.

"It's a nice reserve. Rhino has been wanting to get into the Illinois basin for some time now," Hunt said. "We're really excited to get into western Kentucky."

He said the company has had a good reception from the community so far.

"We've received a lot of applications already even though we're not hiring yet. We've had a lot of interest in the project," Hunt said. "This has been one of the nicest areas we've worked in, as far as people cooperating and welcoming us into the community. We've really appreciated that."

McLean Judge-Executive Kelly Thurman said the mine would have a huge economic impact. In just the first full year, Morris said the company would pay about $1.6 million in coal severance tax to the state, a portion of which would go back to the county.

"The first thing is the economic impact, just the pure dollars and cents. Providing jobs potentially for a couple hundred people is huge," Thurman said. "Studies show dollars turn over anywhere from five to seven times in communities where they're generated."

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Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, http://www.messenger-inquirer.com

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