Curtis Tate Published

Coal Industry Wants Legislature's Help To Recruit And Train Miners

Chris Hamilton, Senior Vice President of the West Virginia Coal Association. Janet Kunicki

The West Virginia coal industry’s top lobbyist says mine companies are having trouble finding workers, and he’d like lawmakers to help recruit and train them.

Chris Hamilton, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, told members of the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee on Tuesday that West Virginia coal mines could hire several hundred workers, if it could find them.

“You know, we ought to be recruiting people from around the country, bringing them here and providing them land and opportunities within our industrial sector,” he said.

Hamilton said Senate Bill 157 could help do that, by funding the Coalfield Community Development Office. That office has been dormant for at least a decade, Hamilton said.

The state employs about 13,000 full-time mine workers. Coal production has been up in the past year, but the industry has been limited by its ability to find new workers.

The committee approved the bill and sent it to the Finance Committee.

The funds would come from coal severance taxes, which have increased with the demand for coal and higher prices per ton.