Hopkins County Mine to Close Next Year

A Hopkins County mine becomes the latest western Kentucky mine to announce plans to close.

Officials with Hopkins County Coal announce they’ll stop production at Elk Creek Mine near Madisonville next January. It comes nearly a month after the Highland and Dodge Hill mines in Henderson and Union Counties were idled. No official word yet on if any workers will be laid off.

On Thursday, the road to Elk Creek Mine stays busy, and the parking lot stays full.  But by this time next year, the mine, and the roads to it could both be empty.

“What’s going to happen with those people?” asks Hopkins Co. Judge Executive Donnie Carroll.

Mine officials say depleted reserves is one reason they’re stopping production.  The nearly 370 workers could end up at other alliance coal mines.  But as production stops, production of coal severance dollars drops.

“I think we all have to look ahead and say, ‘How much longer is coal severance going to last,” Carroll says. “It’s been here for several years, and who knows how much coal is under Hopkins County?”

Carroll says he fears coal reserves, and severance dollars, could be depleted in the next decade. The county saw coal severance money by $700,000 between 2013 and 2014.  Carroll says if it keeps dropping, officials need to start planning on other ways to fund projects.

“I think those cities will have to look at, there’s not going to be any coal severance, and they’re going to have to plan about what they’re going to do in regard to their infrastructure,” he says.

Carroll says there could be ways, including raising taxes, to offset the lost money.  But he adds if planning doesn’t start now, it could cost the economy later.

“It’s one of the things you start worrying about,” says Carroll.

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