Arch Coal Inc. and the Logan County Commission on Friday announced plans to form a new business development corporation to create economic opportunities for Southern West Virginia.
Arch Coal said it would donate $10,000 to fund the formation and promotion of the corporation.
The company also said it plans to donate an undetermined amount of land at its Wylo Mine near Buffalo Creek in Logan County for the group's first project.
"We are pleased to be joining forces with the Logan County Commission in this exciting new entity," said Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal's president and chief executive officer.
"Southern West Virginia is vitally important to the future of Arch Coal," Leer said. "It is the site of many of our largest mines and the home to many of the 2,500 men and women who work at those mines."
State law authorizes the formation of business development corporations to promote, develop and advance business prosperity and economic development.
The Arch Coal-Logan commission group is apparently trying to find new businesses and other development for land flattened by mountaintop removal mining.
"We believe mountaintop mining creates two major benefits for the people of Southern West Virginia," Leer said.
"First, it provides thousands of jobs and tremendous economic benefits to the region during the process," he said. "Second, it creates the kind of land - complete with roads, sewage systems and electrical infrastructure - that can be used for future development."
Under federal law, most strip mines must be put back the way they were. Post-mining land must be reclaimed to the approximate original contour of the land before mining.
Mountaintop removal was legalized as a limited exception to this rule. Companies could flatten the land, or leave it with gently rolling hills, but only if they planned future development of businesses, farms, schools or other public facilities. To qualify, companies must provide detailed development plans when they submit permit applications for mountaintop removal.