DAYTON, Tenn. -- A public hearing in Dayton was described as a step toward a coal company's effort to get permits for two new underground mines.
About 200 people came to the Rhea County Courthouse Thursday evening to comment on Iron Properties' request to start mining on Dayton Mountain.
Bill Winters of the U.S. Office of Surface Mining said the meeting was an early step in the permitting process and a decision was about 18 months away.
Tennessee Environment and Conservation officials say there are about 30 active mines in Tennessee, but only a handful of underground mines.
Some residents said coat truck traffic and environmental concerns worry them.
Iron Properties expects to employ about 300 people, 70 percent of them hired locally.