Friday, May 24, 2013

Kentucky coal jobs at modern low; state's western coalfield now out-producing east

The coal mining business in Eastern Kentucky continues to suffer from record setbacks. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet announced this week that coal jobs in Kentucky have dropped to its lowest level since at least 1950, when numbers were first recorded, reports Bill Estep for the Lexington Herald-Leader. (Photo: A train load of coal near Cumberland. Charles Bertram/Herald-Leader)

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Since September 2011, the state has lost 5,695 coal jobs, or just over 30 percent, with more than 5,500 of those lost jobs from Eastern Kentucky coal mines, Estep reports.

Over the past 18 months, coal production in Eastern Kentucky has dropped 42 percent. Statewide production has fallen 26 percent during that time, and the smaller Western Kentucky Coalfield (part of the Illinois Basin) out-produced the larger Eastern Kentucky field in the first quarter of 2013, producing 10.4 million tons  to 10.1 million.

"Eastern Kentucky coal producers face a number of challenges, including competition from relatively cheap natural gas and lower-cost coal from other regions in the country, higher mining costs, and tougher rules aimed at protecting the environment," Estep reports.
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We reported on the decline in Central Appalachian coal most recently here and a recent conference in Eastern Kentucky designed to build a non-coal economy in Central Appalachia here and here. For a PDF of the state report on coal production and employment, click here.

1 comment:

Ralph B. Davis said...

I think this quite clearly demonstrates that, after years of warnings about the need to invest in Eastern Kentucky economic diversification, the day of reckoning has finally arrived. There might still be some time left to save the region from utter collapse, but the point of no return is quickly approaching.