In Kentucky, coal is one industry that isn't slumping

PINETOP, Kentucky — Misty Richardson spends nine hours a day following the path from a solitary light on her hard hat. When she emerges stiff and sore from the mouth of a coal mine, black dust is intertwined with her braided hair, caked under her neatly painted fingernails and streaked across her face.

Richardson, 31, is the only female miner at International Coal Group's Clean Energy Mine in Knott County.

It's hardly the job the single mother of two pictured for herself. Just last year she was teaching elementary school in Letcher County and working on a master's degree from Union College.

But with demand for coal high, along with prices, radio ads in Eastern Kentucky beckon workers to the mines, where they get good health insurance, above average wages and regular raises.

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