FREEPORT - Rosebud Mining Co. held a groundbreaking ceremony for its Vail Mine Tuesday. Founder and President Clifford Forrest said the venture should mean an increase of 50 jobs when it opens in April and an additional 50 jobs if the company opens another section.
The coal will initially be screened and processed at Rosebud's Tuscarawas processing site, but the company plans to build two units in Freeport identical to the Tuscarawas plant.
Forrest said although the Clean Air Act shut down the mine, there was no shortage of high quality coal in the No. 7 Upper Freeport Seam.
T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK
RICH Milleson, assistant director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, introduces Rosebud Mining Co.’s Founder and President Clifford Forrest, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Vail Mine.
"We saw a great opportunity," said Forrest. He added that this mine could produce about $1.4 billion worth of coal during a 25-year life. It is the first of two or three mines that can potentially be developed in Harrison County. "I'm very excited," he added.
In addition, the low-mercury coal found in the mine will be in great demand since it better conforms to the Clean Air Act. Markets in other states and possibly other countries may open up.
Rosebud has about 15,000 acres in the Freeport area.
Forrest said he appreciated the hospitality and welcome his company was afforded due to the area's heritage of coal mining. He added that Rosebud was committed to benefiting the counties and communities it works with.
"We try to go above and beyond," he said. "We try to be a good corporate citizen."
Rich Milleson, assistant director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, was master of ceremonies at the groundbreaking, and he welcomed Forrest, noting his 30-year history in the coal business and expertise in the field. He introduced Sean Logan, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, who spoke about their effort streamlining the process of regulating the coal industry as per Gov. Ted Strickland's policy of working with industry to bring jobs to Ohio.
"Thank you for your investment in Ohio," he said, adding this long-term venture will benefit the area. "Good-paying jobs represent a proud, stable future."
He said the department is working to balance the need for coal and employment with the department's mission to protect the environment.
"Ohio needs coal. We're going to dig it. We're going to dig a lot of it," he said, adding that they also would look to the future and the legacy they would leave behind. "We can do both conservation and job creation at the same time."
To this end, the department had completed regulatory reform eliminating 265 days from the coal permitting process.
"We have streamlined that process in Ohio and have done so without sacrificing the mission," he said.
He noted other efforts including mine training available at a training center near Cadiz and through Belmont Technical College. He credited U.S. Rep. Zack Space's support for these measures.
He praised D. Michael Jamison, Rosebud's Harrison County general manager, for his work in bringing Rosebud's operations to Harrison County. He added that Jamison, a Cadiz resident with roots in the community, was committed to the area.
Logan also underlined the importance of maintaining lines of communication between the department, the industry and the public, and he invites all to voice their support of fossil fuels.
President Mike Carey of the Ohio Coal Association also complimented Forrest. State Sen. Jason Wilson spoke about the coal mining heritage that shaped Ohio, noting the pride many miners feel for their occupation and adding that it was an honor to represent the state's miners.
"We get things done, and that's the heritage of the state of Ohio," he said, adding that they understand where the country's infrastructure comes from. "We need to tell that story."
State Rep. Josh Ferrell of the 96th District anticipates the revitalization of the area and opportunities the new mine will provide.
"You've got a lot of friends in Harrison County," he said.
Trish McCullough, representing Space, concurred.
Local officials included Harrison County Commissioners Mike Vinka and Barbara Pincola, County Engineer Robert Sterling, and Freeport Township Trustee Randy Cunningham. They noted Rosebud's commitment to the community including Jamison's participation in an economic development plan. Sterling also has worked on the road relocation process.