Coal Mining

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 340 coal producers in the US sell coal to electric utilities, industrial facilities, steel manufacturers, and energy marketing firms or traders. Exports are also an important market for US coal producers. Coal mines are classified by their mining method and the type of coal they mine. Surface mining is the predominant mining method, particularly in western states, while underground mining is often used in eastern states. Coal varies by its heat content, ranging from lignite (the lowest grade) to subbituminous, bituminous, and anthracite (the highest grade).

Competition for Electric Power Generation

About 92% of US coal consumption is used for electric power generation and coal supplies 20% of US electricity generation, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Environmental Compliance

Coal producers are directly impacted by a wide range of environmental regulations that affect the permitting, operation, and reclamation of mining sites.

Industry size & Structure
Industry Forecast
Coal Mining Industry Growth
Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

Recent Developments

Mar 27, 2024 - Prices Eased Amid Rising Payroll Costs in 2023
  • Producer prices for coal mining firms rose just 1.73% in December compared to a year ago after soaring nearly 48% in the previous annual comparison, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment by coal mining firms grew 1.7% in December compared to a year ago but remains far below levels of a decade ago as increases in productivity sap demand for workers. Meanwhile, average wages at mining firms continue to climb, ending 2023 at a record high of $36.24 per hour in December, a 6.2% year-over-year change, per the BLS.
  • A federal appellate court in February delivered a victory for the mining sector when it vacated a lower court ruling that froze new coal leases on public lands, Politico reports. In an unsigned decision, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a lower court judge’s decision in 2022 that reinstated an Obama-era moratorium on reviewing most new coal leasing applications, according to Politico. The National Mining Association (NMA) applauded the ruling stating the court agreed with the NMA, as well as the states of Wyoming and Montana, that the case should have ended once the challenged Department of Interior Secretarial Order was rescinded in 2021. Rich Nolan, NMA president and CEO, said the lower court’s earlier decision “manufactured a nationwide injunction against federal coal leasing unless and until the Bureau of Land Management completed an unnecessary programmatic environmental impact statement.”
  • As of January 19, 2024, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) required mine operators to have written safety programs for surface mobile equipment, excluding belt conveyors, at surface mines and the surface areas of underground mines, Coal Age reports. MSHA’s final rule requires that mine operators develop programs, implement them, and update them when necessary. Moreover, the written safety program must be developed and updated with input from miners and their representatives and include actions mine operators will take to identify hazards and risks to reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities related to surface mobile equipment. In recent years, powered haulage equipment and machinery have been the leading causes of serious and fatal mine accidents. The mining industry had its deadliest year in a decade in 2023, as 40 miners died in accidents across the US. Compliance with MSHA’s final rule is not required until July 17, 2024.
  • Black lung, a devastating disease caused by inhaling coal dust, is on the rise, The Wall Street Journal reports. After hitting a low in the 1990s, coal worker's pneumoconiosis, or black lung, is making a comeback with roughly one in five coal miners in the Central Appalachia coalfields now afflicted, according to WSJ. Federal officials trace rising disease rates to higher levels of toxic silica dust as miners grind up more rock to retrieve coal from thinner seams, prompting new federal rules to cut levels of dust in mines. The Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has proposed cutting the amount of silica dust that miners can be exposed to in an eight-hour shift to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, from 100 currently. The new rule aims to provide new protections for the US’s roughly 66,000 coal miners and workers at other types of mines for materials like clay, gypsum, and sand.
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