Specialized Coal Mine May Be ‘Economic Shot In Arm’ For Small-Town Somerset Co.

ACOSTA (KDKA) — They say coal is dead, but among the rolling farms of Somerset County, it’s showing signs of life.

Corsa Coal is digging a brand new mine in the town of Acosta.

While mines have closed and thousands of miners have been turned out of work, Corsa is bucking a nationwide trend, sinking $15 million into a 120-foot deep pit to mine a special kind of coal.

Metallergical coal is the source material for making coke, the building block of steel production, and with an uptick in economies around world, it’s in high demand through Europe and across Asia.

Experts say this special coal is worth about three times that of thermal coal.

Acosta is hiring some 60 miners to extract five-million tons of so-called “met steel” over the next 12 years, and Corsa is looking at other potential sites nearby.

KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “What’s that mean for Somerset County and this region?”

“It means we will look for more coal and permit more mines and put them in as the demand allows it,” said Robert Bottegal, of Corsa Coal.

Sheehan: “And a big economic shot in the arm here?”

Bottegal: “A very big economic shot.”

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That’s great news for business in nearby Jennerstown, and for Betty Rhoads, of the Coal Miners Café, which was once the breakfast spot for hundreds of miners. She’s now looking for some to return.

Sheehan: “Could be a big boost here?”

Rhoads: “It would be. It’ll help everything, like the gas stations, anything, the little businesses.”

Next week, the mine will be christen with a ceremony attend by Gov. Tom Wolf and a representative of the Trump administration.

While coal in general will continue to struggle, mines like the one in Somerset County are a bright spot for an industry that is hungry for good news.

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