The number of new and reactivated US coal mines has dwindled over the past few years according to a new report by the US Energy Information Agency (EIA). In 2013, the total of new and reopened mines was at its lowest level in over ten years, which resulted in 2013 having the lowest number of active coal mines on record. The 2013 total had 397 fewer coal mines than in 2008. The US coal industry saw a 4% decline in coal mines from 2012 to 2013, while 103 mines were opened, 271 mines were either shuttered or idled.
The EIA reported that the declining number of new mines in the US is a reflection of less investment in the coal industry, small electricity demands, higher competition from natural gas, a weak coal export market and regulatory and permitting challenges.
Although preliminary 2014 data on coal production from the Mine Safety and Health Administration indicate a small improvement in production and in new and reactivated mines for 2014, these levels will still be lower than previous levels.
According to the EIA, Appalachian mines have lower average production than mines in the Western and Interior regions. For example, in 2013, 877 Appalachian mines produced 270 million short t of coal, whereas 52 Western region mines produced 530 million short t. With relatively low average output per mine, the Appalachian region often makes up the largest share of new and reactivated mines, and in years with less openings of mines, the Appalachian region also made up most of the decline in new or reopened mines.
The EIA also indicated that between 2009 and 2013, new and reactivated mines produced 63 million short t in their first year, which did not reach the 114 million short t of lost production from the last year of production by mines idled between 2008 and 2012.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/mining/24092015/coal-mines-declining-in-the-usa-2901/