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Appalachia comes up small in era of giant coal mines

May 8, 2017
The Washington Post /

The average miner underground in West Virginia produces three tons of coal per hour. The average miner at a strip mine in Wyoming produces nearly 28. That is not the fault of the miners but of the mines’ geology.

Appalachian coal mines have a size problem. This is different from the well-documented problems of the industry itself. Yes, cheap natural gas has become the go-to fuel for generating electricity. And pollution regulations have made coal-fired plants less profitable. Exports have waned as China and other countries mine more of their own coal, and renewable options such as wind and solar have become more practical and widely used.