PINEVILLE, .W.Va. — The frustration in his voice was clear when David Jackson talked about his workplace. Jackson works at the preparation plant of the Pinnacle Mine in Wyoming County and like about 400 others, will soon be unemployed.
“If a little bit of money had been put into this place and it was managed right, this place had the potential to make a lot of money,” said Jackson. “I think this company had a plan to come in, make money, gut the place, and shut it down. I think from day one that was their intention and they’ve done an excellent job of running us completely into the ground.”
Mission Coal now owns the mine and indicated unless the operation could be sold, the mine would be shutdown and the workers would lose their jobs October 5th. There appeared to be some hope a sale could happen, but Jackson said workers were told this week the purchase had fallen through and operations would halt in mid October.
“Fire bosses inside tell me they’ve already cut off the pumps and they’re flooding the mine,” Jackson said. “They extended it a little to get some of the equipment from underground.”
The Pinnacle Mine has been in operation since 1969. It was run for many years by U.S. Steel and has long been a staple of employment and tax revenue for Wyoming County. The mine provides jobs to 400 people and millions of dollars in spin-off impact to the areas’s economy. The loss will be felt deeply. Jackson is angered because in his opinion, it didn’t have to be this way.
“They’ve let the place run into the ground. They’ve robbed Peter to pay Paul. They’ve taken parts off equipment to fix other parts and just patched stuff up,” he said. “They’ve run the place into the ground and made it such an enormous cost for somebody else to come in and restart the place and make a profit with maybe the potential 8 to 12 years of longwall coal you have left.”
Workers are resigned to the fact they will lose their jobs, but haven’t worked in days and have been paid only minimal wages. According to Jackson, they can’t find other employment since they company hasn’t officially cut them loose. That too chaps Jackson.
“They need to let them cut losses and get on with their lives and get on in their careers with a company that’s serious about mining coal and that is not a bunch of clowns,” Jackson said. “You can quote me on that…they are clowns.”