LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A new report says hard times are expected to continue for the coal industry in Central Appalachia, which at one time was the hub of the nation's coal production.
Coal business in the mountains of eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia is facing declining reserves, higher production costs and competition from other coal basins and natural gas.
The report from Downstream Strategies says government figures show that production there will fall from 185 million tons in 2011 to 128 million tons by 2020, a 31 percent drop.
The group sounded alarms about the decline in a 2010 report. The new report out Tuesday says the region's coal sales will continue to slump as coal-fired power plants in the U.S. seek cheaper sources, switch to natural gas or are shut down.