FREELANDVILLE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – The Freelandville surface mine is set to reopen “immediately,” according to Sunrise Coal and its parent company, Hallador Energy.

Chief accounting officer Todd Davis said the reopening of that mine, as well as another surface mine in Knox County, was driven by the needs for power plants.

“The power plants we are hearing, we’re being told they are running short on supply.  We are at a point right now where if we can produce the coal, we can sell the coal,” he said.

As a result, the company needed to expand, and they announced they are currently hiring 200 new employees in the area.

“Our biggest constraint today is man power. We have the equipment we need, we have the tons of coal in reserve, we just need the manpower to get to them,” Davis said.

Local officials reacted positively to the news. Knox County Commission President Kellie Streeter said she remembers when the mine shut down several years ago.

“It is so good to see the former shuttered mine that I live near and represent and my neighbors had their jobs lost from years ago… Now to see it be open, and the addition of jobs and high wages probably a lot of the coal staying in the area, it gives me great hope,” Streeter said. “It’s a great, great project for many reasons, and I’m very excited.”

Vice President for the commission, T.J. Brink, mentioned Hallador’s purchase of a power plant in Merom earlier this year as a reason the expansion is positive for surrounding communities as well.

“Continuing to open the Merom plant is important to us, although it’s Sullivan County, its our area,” Davis said. “And when Sullivan succeeds, we succeed. It’s all about that regional area, and that regional development.”

Davis said most of the job openings were either surface mining or underground mining. He said the company hopes to begin operations by August, if not sooner.