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Coal Industry Leaders Say Coal Boom Is Over

By: Julie Maloney Email
By: Julie Maloney Email

Coal industry leaders say the coal boom is over.

New regulations, warm weather and a declining cost of coal is contributing to a tight market, leaving some without a job.

WYMT's Julie Maloney spoke with coal officials about the downturn in the coal market.

This time last year, the coal business was booming and industry leaders say they expected coal to be the fuel of the future at least for the next five years.

Officials say tougher mining standards and a rising price of diesel fuel are making it hard for coal companies to maintain production and their workforce.

Coal fuels 52-percent of the nations electricity and for the last year the coal industry has been booming.

"It's over. It's not in a boom cycle, it's in a down-cycle right now," Dave Blankenship said.

The summer was cool and it's been a warm winter.

"So the demand for the heating and cooling has dropped considerably," Bill Caylor said.

Leaving many mines with piles of coal that aren't being used and with coal in surplus, companies are having to layoff workers.

"You'll see slow changes. Some companies may have to cut back on their shifts, some layoffs, merges and consolidation in this industry," Caylor said.

There's more to the downswing of the coal business, Caylor says rising fuel prices and meeting new mine safety legislation is costing companies hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"The question is how long will these layoffs last," Caylor said.

It could take months, even years to reach a solution.

"Coal to gas or coal to liquids is the solution, I believe," Caylor said.

Blankenship says that's at least 10 years in the future.

WYMT learned Monday that dozens of employees at the Massey Owned Coal Good Mine in Harlan County were laid off.

While many in the coal business are concerned right now, consumers can look forward to cheap coal and electricity prices for the time being.


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