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Closures of small mines lead to higher miner-hours

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World Coal,

According to a report from the US Energy Information Agency (EIA), overall coal mining productivity increased by 6.7% with an average of 5.5 short t per miner hour in 2013 (the most recent year with detailed productivity statistics). It reports preliminary data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration suggests additional increases in 2014.

The increase in productivity is reported to be largely a result of improved productivity at large coal mines and improved mining technology. Yet a large portion of the increase is a result of closures of less-efficient coal mines with lower labour productivity.

The number of active producing coal mines in the US in 2013 was the lowest on record – dating back to the late 1800s.There were 14% fewer US coal mines in 2013 compared to 2012, dropping to 1061 from 1228 coal mines.

The report indicates larger mines often have higher productivity. It explained mines producing more than 1 million short t in 2013 averaged 8.1 short t per miner hour, while mines producing 1 million t or less averaged 2.4 short t per miner hour.

A small section (15% in 2013) of production is made up of smaller mines and closing these has had a relatively small impact on total coal production, which fell from 1017 million short t in 2012 to 985 million short t in 2013.

Edited from source: EIA by Harleigh Hobbs

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