Appalachia is hardest hit as US coal output continues to decline
By Jodi Delapaz
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2016 - Coal production in the U.S. has dropped to its lowest level in three decades, according to a new analysis from the Energy Information Administration.
EIA's data show that in 2015, coal production fell 10.3 percent from 2014 to below 900 million short tons (MMst) - the lowest level since 1986.
While production in all three regions - the Western, Interior and Appalachian - decreased in 2015, Appalachia was the hardest hit, at its lowest level since 1978. After a decline of some 17.3 percent from 2014, the region's output was at 220.7 MMst.
The declining trend in Appalachia resulted from historically-low coal production from West Virginia and Kentucky, the agency says. The states produced 95.6 and 61.4 MMst, respectively, representing drops of 14.8 percent and 20.6 percent from 2014.
The data also show that the Western Region, which accounted for 56.6 percent of total U.S. coal production in 2015, was 6.5 percent lower than 2014 at 507.4 MMst.
The number of the nation's producing mines fell 13 percent to 853 mines, EIA says. And overall productivity capacity decreased for the fourth year in a row, to 1,165 MMst - down 6.3 percent from 2014.
Employee numbers at U.S. coal mines fell by 12 percent from 2014, to 65,971 workers, the lowest on record since EIA began collecting data in 1978.
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