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Coal Production & Mining

Wyoming Coal Stats Current Wyoming Coal Mine StatisticsState coal production

Wyoming Coal StatsMSHA Quarterly Coal Mine Production

Wyoming remains the most prolific coal-producing state in the nation, despite a 21 percent decrease in production between 2015 (375 million short tons (MT)) and 2016 (297 MT), according to the Wyoming State Mine Inspector’s Report, 2016. As of June 2017, however, Wyoming coal production had rebounded to 322 MT annually (DOE-EIA coal data 2017).

All Wyoming coal mines combined average 41 percent of all U.S. coal production. In fact, Wyoming’s 16 mines produce more coal than all coal mines combined in the six other top producing states: West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, Texas, and Montana.

Between 1865 and January 1, 2017, more than 11.3 billion short tons of coal had been mined in Wyoming, most of it in the last 20 years. More than 7.7 billion short tons of Wyoming coal, or 68 percent of the historic statewide total, were produced after 1996. The highest coal production year for Wyoming was 2008, with 466.3 MT mined.

In terms of value, Wyoming coal production decreased 22 percent from an estimated $4.37 billion in 2015 to $2.77 billion in 2016, based on EIA average spot coal pricing. This was due to a significant drop in production and price in 2016. The industry rebounded in December 2016, with an increase in coal production, and price rising from a low of $9.20/ton in December 2016 to $10.10/ton in June 2017 (EIA average).

Wyoming’s large surface coal mines are the most efficient in the nation, with an average recovery factor of 92 percent (DOE-EIA, 2015). Statewide, the average production of coal per employee is 27.38 short tons per hour. This is the highest productivity in the nation and more than double the productivity of the next top coal-producing state.

Ten coal companies operate 16 coal mines, which are all located in four Wyoming counties: Campbell, Converse, Lincoln, and Sweetwater. The majority of the coal, however, is produced from 11 mines in Campbell County. Fifteen of the mines extract coal through surface mining techniques, and one underground mine operates in Sweetwater County.

The table below shows Wyoming coal production in short tons, by county, and by method of mining for 2016 (Source: Wyoming State Inspector of Mines, 2016).

County 2016 Production Underground mine Surface mine Total mines
Campbell 257,436,288 - 257,436,288 11
Converse 29,807,165 - 29,807,165 1
Lincoln 4,105,900 - 4,105,900 1
Sweetwater 6,152,541 1,542,452 4,610,089 3
Total 297,501,894 1,542,452 295,959,442 16

Mine Employment

Since 1960, coal production and employment have increased dramatically in Wyoming. This was primarily due to the development of large shallow surface reserves in the Powder River Basin. As of December 2016, Wyoming coal mines employed 5,627 miners and mine operations personnel, which is 713 fewer employees than in March 2016 (MSHA data, 2017). See Wyoming Coal Production and Employment Graph for more information.

Coal Distribution

More than 92 percent of the coal mined in Wyoming is shipped via rail to 31 other states. Coal-fired power plants in Texas, Illinois, and Missouri are the largest consumers of Wyoming coal. Most of the coal is used for steam to generate electricity at power plants, but a small amount is used at industrial plants and commercial facilities. Most of the coal is consumed in the United States, but about 1 percent of Wyoming's coal is exported to Canada. See Wyoming Coal Distribution Map for more information.