- Associated Press - Friday, January 8, 2016

BIG STONE GAP, Va. (AP) - With coal on the decline, Virginia is making it easier for surface miners to transition to other types of mining.

Starting Jan. 15, miners who are certified to work at surface coal mines will also be eligible to work in the mineral mining industry. Until now, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy required additional training for workers hoping to transition.

Virginia has 444 permitted mineral mines and they recorded a 10 percent increase in production. In 2015, the state issued 1,565 general mineral miner certifications, while surface certifications were issued to 614 coal miners.

The department’s mine division chief, Randy Moore, says the change makes it easier for coal miners to find work.

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