Miners in Bell and Harlan counties laid off

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Dozens of miners in Bell and Harlan counties now have no jobs, after Pineville-based Manalapan Mining Company idled its mines.

Workers tell us it appeared to be an economic decision. They were called into a meeting Wednesday afternoon, where they knew what happened would not be good.

"No coal was coming out. They had to let us go," said Michael Barker.

Barker was applying for unemployment benefits Thursday at the Middlesboro unemployment office.

"I got two boys and one on the way," said Justin Brummett.

Justin Brummett is one of many miners who got a letter Wednesday from Manalapan Mining Company.

It informs him he's being temporarily laid off.

"The fines keep going up, as the cost of materials keeps going up," said Brummett.

Brummett said production was stopped at the company's underground mines.

Many who got let go told Mountain News the company was unable to get new permits to mine from the government.

An employee at the company's office would confirm that the mines have been idled, but she told Mountain News the company had no comment.

We asked if the president was in the office, and that employee told us he was - but was in a conference call and unable to speak with us.

Miners said they knew the company had fallen on hard times.

"I wasn't really shocked. I was expecting it," said Barker.

Those let go are hopeful they will get their jobs back.

"Be three to four weeks - we might get called back; we might not," said Barker.

Until that time, they'll be looking for another way to make a living.

"We're coal miners. We're tough. We'll get out there and find another job," said Brummett.

Workers said the company will continue their insurance until the end of the month.

You may remember a Bell County miner was killed inside Manalapan's P-1 mine at Pathfork in Harlan County earlier this summer.

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