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Coal Mining


There are two primary methods of mining coal, surface mining and underground mining. There are over 1,000 surface mines and more than 1,000 underground mines in the US. Underground mining is more difficult and requires more miners, but much of our best coal is underground. Mining has become much safer and more efficient over the years. In 1980 there were over 220,000 coal miners in the country. Today there are fewer than 100,000. But while 1980 production was about 800,000 tons, today we produce over 1 billion tons with fewer than half the number of miners.

In recent years surface mining in Wyoming has mushroomed, making that state the leading coal producer at almost 300,000 tons per year. West Virginia and Kentucky, the traditional leaders, with both underground and surface mines, each produce around 170,000 tons.

Trade Associations:

American Institute of Mining, Metalurgical and Petroleum Engineers, founded in 1871, is made up of several Founding Societies.
National Mining Association represents many mining companies.

Regulation: Coal mining is heavily regulated, both for safety and environmental impact, by the states and the federal government.

Government information:

Energy Information Administration:

Coal Industry Annual - (PDF): This publication provides comprehensive information about US coal production, number of mines, prices, consumption, distribution, stocks, coal quality, emissions, productivity, employment, productive capacity, and recoverable reserves. Appendix A contains a compilation of coal statistics for the major coal-producing States. File Size: 2.2 meg.

Trade periodicals and Publications:

Coal Age -- is free to qualified readers.
Mining Publications from MiningUSA.
Today's News: Mining and Metals --covers a range of mining and metals information from Reuters, Business Wire, and PR Newswire. Published by: Yahoo!, USA.

Other sources:

Coal Information Network has many coal links.
The Coal WWW Virtual Library by the Australian Federal Department of Primary Industries and Energy. A huge, excellent site.
MiningUSA - calls itself The Store Front For The Mining Industry.

A sample of companies:

Amax Coal West ACQUIRED by PhelpsDodge -- located near Gillette, Wyoming; its mines are situated in the Powder River Basin, the nation's largest coal-producing area.
Arch Coal -- was formed in 1997 with the combination of Arch Mineral and Ashland Coal.
ARCO Coal Company -- a subsidiary of ARCO Oil Company. Includes search facility.
Lee Ranch Coal Company -- in Grants, New Mexico, operates a surface mine which ships 4 million tons annually and owns or controls 700 million tons of low sulfur coal reserves.
Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company -- an anthracite coal producing company.
MAPCO Coal Inc. Acquired by Williams-- has one surface and six underground mine complexes in Kentucky, Maryland, Illinois and Virginia.
Powder River Coal Company -- owns and manages four large surface mines in Wyoming's coal-rich Powder River Basin. They are Rochelle, North Antelope, Caballo, and Rawhide.
Jim Walter Resources -- mines the Blue Creek Seam in Alabama's coal-rich Warrior Basin.
Western Fuels Association supplies coal to several electric power generating cooperatives.
Wyodak Resources Development Corporation -- is a surface mine in the northeast corner of Wyoming. Wyodak is believed to be the oldest operating surface coal mine in the nation.

January 2000 update: None of the Zeigler Coal URL's were working during this update.
Zeigler Coal Holding Co. (ZEIGLER-COAL-DOM)
141 Market Place
Suite 100
Fairview Heights, IL 62208
Zeigler Coal Holding Company -- includes information on Evergreen Mining Company, Marrowbone Development Company, Pike County Coal Corporation, R? Coal Company, Turris Coal Company, Zeigler No. 11 Mine and Spartan Mine, Buckskin Mine and North Rochelle Mine, with typical coal specifications.

Other sources:

What Coal Miners Do -- different coal mining methods; and historical photographs. Published by United Mine Workers of America.
Coal Education -- classroom lesson plans, coal educational resources, mining terms glossary, Coal Facts Book (on-line), coal-related issues and technical abstracts. Very good site by the Kentucky Coal Association.
Just for kids - All About Coal Mining -- coal blasting, removal, reclamation, safety and history, by: Black Hills Corporation, USA.
Coal: An Introduction by Larissa Gammidge. -- Good background description including rank and coal classification information published by the University of Newcastle, Australia.
The Coal Mine -- Includes Old Ben No 17 coal mine, coal mine history and coal mining resources and educational resources by The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.
Coal Mining is a list of books published by Ayer.

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