The company, which operates two Powder River Basin mines, says exiting the thermal coal business is “the right business solution in the event we are unable to find an appropriate buyer.”
GILLETTE — Rumors about the coal industry are common in northeast Wyoming where strip mining provides 5,000 direct jobs and supports about three times that in the mine services sector. But when Arch Coal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, Robert Frieze, who works at Arch’s Coal Creek mine, realized that talk of layoffs […]
I come from Gillette, so I’m familiar with the time-honored tradition among many in the coal mining industry to declare during presidential campaigns that the Democratic candidate (fill in blank) will shut down the coal industry if elected. Some have gone so far as to hand out stickers to miners on election day stating “VOTE RIGHT” and suggesting their jobs may depend on it.
The notion is that all Democrats just think coal is icky and, heck, why not switch off — over night — the fuel that powers nearly half of the nation’s electricity? This notion about Democrats and coal is entirely outlandish (see: Democrat Dave Freudenthal, former Wyoming governor, joins board of Arch Coal Inc.), but it’s part of America’s political discourse.
Wyoming coal producers fared well during a tumultuous year for the industry nationwide, increasing output by an estimated 2.6 percent in 2010. It’s a modest recovery in production, after slipping 7.8 percent in 2009. Wyoming’s year-to-date coal production as of December 25 was 434 million tons, and the industry was on track to finish the year at 442.5 million tons, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.