Southern Coal has entered into a multi-year agreement with one of the nation’s largest utility providers, American Electric Power (AEP). Jim and Jay Justice, owners of Southern Coal, confirmed that they have been in constant negotiation with AEP officials to save jobs and restart the mines.

“AEP is pleased to play a role in supporting economic development in Southwest Virginia, Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky,” said Nicholas K. Akins, president and CEO, AEP. “We believe it is important to maintain a diversified fuel mix for power generation, and coal needs to continue to be a part of that mix. This project will not only provide a secure source of reasonably priced fuel for our power plants, but it also will help fuel economic growth throughout Southwest Virginia, Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.”

AEP, the governors of West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky, and the Justice Family have worked tirelessly to put these families back to work. Southern Coal said 650 new miners will be hired over the coming weeks, and an additional 500 jobs will be saved. In a prepared statement, Jim and Jay Justice said: “We are so happy to be able to save the jobs, especially at this time of the year. We hope this will make the holidays a little better for those effected.”

Based in Roanoke, Va., Southern Coal will employ more than 1,700 people directly, and produce 9 million tons in 2013 from mines in Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama.