PETTUS, W.Va. — Alpha Natural Resources announced Thursday it will open a new underground coal mine in Raleigh County this summer.

Marfork Coal Company, an Alpha subsidiary, plans to begin mining coal as early as July at Panther Eagle Mine near Pettus, according to a news release from the company.

There are 8.8 million tons of metallurgical reserves available for Panther Eagle.

“Recent improvement in the market has created more demand for our coal and strategically increasing production will help meet that need,” said Alpha Vice President of Operations Charlie Bearse said.

Metallurgical coal is used in the making of steel. Panther Eagle is expected to produce 110,000 tons of Alpha’s 14 million tons projected in 2017.

According to the company, the opening of the mine will create 50 full-time jobs. Four job fairs are scheduled in the region. They’ll be looking for mine management, fire boss, electrician, equipment operator, dispatcher and other general labor.

“We are thrilled to be bringing mining jobs back to our counties,” Bearse said in the news release. “When you have good jobs, it benefits the many businesses, schools and charities that rely on a strong local economy to serve their communities.”

The job fairs will also be used to fill another 30 jobs at other Alpha operations in the area.

The job fairs will be held in the following locations from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

June 9 Independence Middle School Coal City

June 16 Country Inns and Suites Beckley

June 23 Sherman Elementary School Comfort

June 30 Sharon Dawes Elementary Sharon

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