The Steep Decline Of The Central Appalachian Coal Industry

coal miners mining

The coal industry that sustained Central Appalachia since the 19th-century is declining faster than anyone expected.

In a little more than three years, the amount of coal mined there will be less than half the total in 2008, according to the Department of Energy. They’ve simply exhausted most of the easy to reach resources.

Reporting from Garrett, Ky., the AP warns of economic devastation as the industry shrinks. Coal mining occupies up to 40 per cent of the workforce in some towns.

We tracked down a 2010 report from West Virginia’s Downstream Strategies about the decline of the industry.

Coal production has been declining since 1983

Coal production has also shifted increasingly toward surface coal production

Total mining employment has fallen by half since 1983

Even with fewer workers, productivity each miner has been producing less coal since 2000.

As productivity declines, prices have gone up

Central Appalachia currently produces the most expensive coal in the U.S.

Power plants are buying less and less Central Appalachian coal

The rest of the world is running out of coal too

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.