There are a lot of things that coal did today that you may not have realized. The coal mining industry is responsible for providing over 37% of the power that is used to send out the 300 billion emails that people see each day. More than 25 TWh of electricity comes from this work, which is more than gas, wind, solar, and oil combined. We generate enough power through coal for 1,800 nuclear power plants.
There are several other benefits which happened today because of the coal mining industry too. It fuels almost 80% of the industrial sector in China, which is responsible for the majority of the world’s export market. It enabled the production of 3.1 million tons of steel. Over 3 billion people receive over 50% of their electricity because of the energy that coal produces.
We need coal because it energizes the infrastructure of our world. Over 210,000 people are born each day. There will be 85,000 people moving into cities in India and China. Over 225,000 vehicles will be sold. All of this movement and activity has a foundation that is based on what coal mining provides.
Although there are relevant concerns to consider regarding the environmental impact of this industry, there is also no doubt about the fact that we all need it to maintain our current lifestyles.
Essential Coal Mining Industry Statistics
#1. The United States produced 774.1 million short tons of coal in 2017, which is an increase of more than 50 million tons from the year before. The industry is still far below the levels produced in 2006, when 1.16 billion short tons were produced. (National Mining Association)
#2. Electrical power is the primary consumption need for coal in the United States, responsible for over 664 million short tons in 2017. There is a direct correlation to the amount of coal required for power plans and the figures that are mined in the U.S. each year. (National Mining Association)
#3. Industrial use of coal products totaled 33.6 million short tons in 2016, which is about half of what it was in 2004. (National Mining Association)
#4. Most of the coal that is mined in the United States remains for domestic consumption. Just 96.7 million short tons of bituminous coal were exported in 2017, along with 100,000 short tons of lignite and 300,000 short tons of anthracite. (National Mining Association)
#5. China is the leading producer of coal in the world today, with 3.37 billion metric tons produced in 2017. India came in second, with 729.8 million metric tons. The United States is the third-largest producer, followed by Australia, Indonesia, and Russia. (National Mining Association)
#6. Indonesia is the global leader in total coal exports, bringing 390.6 million metric tons to the market in 2017. Australia came in second with 378.9 million metric tons. Russia, the U.S., Colombia, and South Africa followed. (International Energy Agency)
#7. China consumes more coal each year then the next 9 countries combined, with 3.65 billion metric tons of consumption. They are also responsible for almost 50% of the coal that is used for any purpose in the world today. India comes in a far second at 941.6 million metric tons. (International Energy Agency)
#8. Outside of the top 10 coal consumers, the rest of the world (over 190 countries) consume just 1 billion metric tons together. (International Energy Agency)
#9. China leads the world in total coal imports, purchasing 271 million metric tons in 2017. India purchases 208 million metric tons to finish second in this category. They were followed by Japan (187.5), Korea (148.2,) Taiwan (67.6), and German (48). (International Energy Agency)
#10. Each person in the United States uses the equivalent of 3.7 tons of coal to meet their lifestyle needs. Almost 90% of what is used comes from a resource that is domestically based. (UN Development Program)
#11. There are over 1,100 manufacturing facilities and 600 coal-generating locations currently operating in the United States. These active firms are responsible for about 32% of the total energy production in the U.S., along with 23% of consumption. (Energy Information Administration)
#12. About 30% of the coal mines which are operational in the United States are owned by public companies. These outfits produce almost 75% of the coal that the U.S. brings to the market each year. (RMCMI)
#13. Almost 70% of today’s coal production comes through surface mining operations instead of underground facilities. Mountaintop mining in the Appalachians contributes about 10% of all the coal mined in the United States, along with 40% of what comes from Kentucky and West Virginia. (RMCMI)
#14. The United States recently ended its streak of 15 consecutive years of producing more than 1 billion tons of coal annually. (RMCMI)
#15. Coal mining in the United States is responsible for the employment of about 134,000 people across the country. Each job that the industry creates will support another 3.5 jobs elsewhere in the local economy. Over the next ten years, another 50,000 workers are expected to be required to meet demand levels or replace retiring workers. (RMCMI)
#16. There are almost 262 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves located in the United States right now. The EIA estimates that with the current usage levels, this is enough energy to operate for the next 235 years. (Energy Information Association)
#17. Coal energy represents about 94% of the fossil energy reserve that is currently known in the United States. There are at least 38 states where coal deposits are present, with 13% of the land area ready for potential development. (RMCMI)
#18. Coal mining is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States, with the rate of fatal occupational injury at 24.8 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. The overall average for the private industries in the U.S. is just 4.3 incidents per 100,000 FTEs. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
#19. For the total non-fatal illness and injury rate, the coal mining industry sees 4.4 incidents for every 100 full-time workers, while the overall average in the private industry is just 3.9 cases. Bituminous coal underground mining is even more hazardous, averaging 6.5 cases for every 100 FTEs. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
#20. Total revenues earned from coal mining activities in the United States totaled $46 billion in the United States. (Statista)
#21. West Virginia is the largest coal exporter in the United States, sending 21 million tons to the global market each year. (Statista)
#22. The largest company in the world that works with coal, in terms of production, is Coal India Limited. They produced 599 million metric tons in the 2016-17 operating season. (Statista)
#23. 60% of China’s growing energy consumption needs are currently met by coal, while total domestic consumption in the United States has seen decreases as energy needs expand. (Statista)
#24. The average worker that is employed by the coal mining industry is 43.8 years old. Although the average salary for the workforce is $76,569, women make far less, averaging just $49,380. (DataUSA)
#25. 24.8% of the employment opportunities in the coal mining industry involve mining machine operators. Firstline supervisors make up another 8.7% of the positions. Then miscellaneous extraction workers represent 7.7% of the industry. (DataUSA)
#26. About 4,300 women are currently employed by the coal mining industry, which means over 92% of the labor force is men. (DataUSA)
Coal Mining Industry Trends and Analysis
The coal mining industry in the United States has declined by almost 40% in annual volume since its peak in 2008. While countries like India and Australia see steady increases for this industry, the U.S. has its global share continuing to drop.
In 2008, U.S. coal was responsible for 18% of the global industry. That figure dropped to 11% by 2014 – and it continues to decline.
One of the reasons for this issue is the steep decline in natural gas pricing. It was $7 per 1 million BTUs in 2007, but it was only $3 during Q1 2017. That is a price range that the coal mining industry cannot compete with at all. The year 2016 marked the first time that natural gas surpassed coal as the top producer of domestic electricity as well.
Coal mining employment has seen steady declines since 1985, and even earlier in some communities. An increase in per-worker production contributes to this issue, as changing technologies allow the miner in 2017 to produce three times more coal per day than the miner working in 1985.
Although there will be a demand for coal around the world for at least the next century, the product that helped the world industrialize is seeing slow and steady declines in its most mature markets. That trend will continue eventually for Australia and India as well. Only China looks to continue expanding, and even they are researching alternatives.
Clean coal technologies might help some workers, but it seems like it will only delay the inevitable for the coal mining industry.
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