As Tunnel Ridge Mine looks to expand coal production in Ohio County, it is beginning the new year by reaching out to experienced miners familiar with the ins and outs of the industry.
An information session is planned for 9 a.m. to noon Sunday at the mine offices, located on Battle Run Road. Mine staffers will provide some details on employment opportunities at Tunnel Ridge, as well as lead "windshield tours" of the facility.
Tunnel Ridge, a subsidiary of Tulsa, Okla.-based Alliance Resource Partners, began underground mining March 26 and currently employs about 100 people, according to Jody Theriot, human resources manager at the mine. Tunnel Ridge officials said in November they would look to increase that figure to about 230 by the end of this year, and from there to more than 340 when the mine reaches full production.
Theriot said there is no set target for positions to be filled right now, but additional miners may be needed by the end of the first quarter of this year.
"We're going to be staffing two additional continuous miner units, so we're trying to get some information out to experienced coal miners in the area," Theriot said.
He noted about 40 people generally are needed to operate a single continuous miner unit; however, the exact number depends on the number of shifts scheduled.
Tunnel Ridge is looking for "experienced miners," Theriot said - meaning people who already have achieved state certification by taking the required 80-hour course, completing an apprenticeship and passing a final exam. That is a minimum requirement, he added, noting additional experience as a working coal miner is something they're looking for.
"This event will allow interested miners to get the facts about Tunnel Ridge Mine, let them talk with some of our folks, look over our projections and receive information about our pay and benefits," said mine Manager Donnie Bowen.
"I think the more miners in the area know about Tunnel Ridge, the better off we all are," Theriot added.
The Tunnel Ridge Mine offices are located at 2596 Battle Run Road, between National Road and Dement Road. People coming from Interstate 70 should take the Dallas Pike exit to National Road, then turn right and go about a mile to Battle Run Road. Turn left on Battle Run Road and watch for the mine offices on the right.
Refreshments will be available, and spouses are also welcome to attend.
Tunnel Ridge Mine is tapping into Alliance's 103 million-ton coal reserve, which stretches east across state lines into Washington County, Pa. Mine officials expect to be in the area well into the 2030s.
Alliance Resource Partners began in 1971 as MAPCO Coal Inc. After a management buyout in 1996, the company went public in 1999 under its current name. Today, it is the eastern United States' fifth-largest coal producer, employing over 3,000 and producing more than 30 million tons of coal annually at its various mines.