Consultant: Coal mine hiring moving forward

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Virginia consulting company seeking out-of-work coal miners says it is moving forward with plans to place workers in hundreds of mine jobs in Virginia and Kentucky.

Eddie Estep, president of Professional Contracting in Norton, Va., said in telephone interview Thursday he has already placed about 50 miners in jobs.

Estep said his company has fielded about 3,000 applications over the past month to fill nearly 800 jobs in mines owned by a group of investors. He declined to name the investors.

Speculation about the jobs had focused on Alpha Natural Resources, which closed four mines in January, costing the region hundreds of jobs. The Whitesburg Mountain Eagle reported Wednesday that Roanoke, Va.-based Alpha wasn't involved.

Estep said he isn't working with Alpha on this batch of jobs.

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