Some Good News for Coal Industry -- Miner Productivity Up

Beckley Register-Herald - Years of declining efficiency in the coal industry could end soon, especially in the U.S. where both surface and underground mines located in the country's top producing regions have witnessed increased productivity over the last couple years, a recent study shows. Read

SNL Energy, a financial website, found coal miners' productivity — a measure of the clean tons of coal a mine produces per employee hour — has increased even in the Central Appalachian basin, where most of the U.S. coal is produced, despite a decrease in production.

In the Central Appalachian basin, the average underground miner produced 1.37 tons of coal per hour in the last quarter, ending March 31, the report found. Miners working in the Illinois base produced about 4.51 tons of coal per man-hour. In Central Appalachia's surface mines, miners produced coal at a rate of 3.32 million tons per man-hour, significantly lower than the 30.16 ton of coal per-man hour in the Powder River Basin, the report found.

The report states the Central Appalachian good numbers could be short term.

"My guess would be that the increase in productivity is loosely tied to the economic recovery and stronger growth of the economy in 2014," Ted Boettner, director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, was quoted in the report. "Perhaps, demand rose while employment has stagnated and they haven't retired workers."


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