Somerset County has seen a significant downturn in the coal industry over the years, but this new mine may give a jolt to the local economy.
A 3 million dollar state grant along with investor funding has the Acosta Coal Mine getting ready to open. With the prospect of new jobs in the area, Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk says the county is already digging in to the new opportunities.
He said, “We think it’s going to be a benefit to the economy of the county. It’s going to create a hundred jobs and hopefully there will be a lot spin off jobs created by that; tire companies selling tires and trucking companies that will be hauling the coal.”
The mine is basically a giant hole that is 120 feet deep. Once they reach the coal seam, they will drill horizontally into the hillside to mine the coal.
The coal being mined at the site will be sent overseas to be used for steel production. Corsa Coal Engineer Manager Robert Bottegal says they life of the mine is 10 years but there may be ways to make it last longer.
He explained, “We also have the ability to ramp up into upper seam or ramp down into lower seam that could significantly extend that.”
As the life of mine winds down, Bottegal says they’ll manage the job loss through retirements and also transition the jobs to other sites. All the while, the company will be looking for new opportunities.
He said, “We’re constantly looking to expand and add new mining projects. Through that, we have an exploratory drilling program out drilling holes try to find other coal seam. Guys are out talking to local landowners trying to find different prospects.”
The mine is still in the preparation stage but Corsa Coal has already employed around 6 or 7 local contractors. Even in the early stages Vatavuk says it’s changed the mindset of the county. He explained, “I think it’s a psychological advantage to have something like this in the county. To get something new and improved in the county and it shows that the county is moving forward instead of moving backwards.
President Trump’s administration says its working to revitalize the coal industry but Bottegal says the results have yet to be seen. He said, “They’ve introduced a couple of executive orders that are intended to help the coal industry so far i don’t think we’ve seen any direct impacts.”
For Vatavuk, he says just the prospect of changes to the industry is making a difference. He said, “The thought that they are going to change more of the regulations has really had an impact on the county. A positive impact.”
Vatavuk says that positive impact will be seen in the income tax revenue for the state and local township. The mine will be officially open on June 8th. Click here to apply for jobs at Corsa.