Coal mining in Wyoming

Coal mine in Wyoming

Coal mining in Wyoming has long been a significant part of the state's economy. Wyoming has been the largest producer of coal in the United States since 1986. In 2013, there were 17 active coal mines in Wyoming, which produced 388 million short tons, 39 percent of all the coal mined in the US, and more than three times the production of second-place West Virginia.[1]


In 1868, the Union Pacific Railroad opened the first coal mine in Carbon County, and the county was named for its extensive coal deposits.[2]

In 2011 Wyoming's coal mines employed 7,000 people; a high was reached in 1981 when 38,500 Wyomingites were recorded as being employed in the mining industry.

Most of Wyoming's coal mines are in the Powder River Basin of northeastern Wyoming, especially in Campbell County. More than 88% of the state's coal production was contributed by mines in the northeast in 1996.

Five ports in Washington and Oregon are considering building export terminals to ship coal to Asia, the coal would come from Wyoming and Montana and be shipped to the Northwest via train.[3][4] Wyoming has 42 billion tons of reserve recoverable coal, and 1.4 trillion tons total that could become a reserve in the future. Most of the coal from Wyoming is sub-bituminous coal which burns at around 8400–8800 BTUs per pound.

After the shale gas boom, economics became stressed for coal, and companies like Peabody filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2016.[5][6]

Coal power provided 42.7 TWh of Wyoming electricity in 2016, compared to 3.8 TWh for the second largest (wind).[7]


On June 30, 1903 coal gas ignited in the Chimney Springs mine, killing 169 of the miners. In 1908, the same mine exploded again, trapping 18 miners inside. The state mine inspector and 40 other men entered the mine to rescue the miners, while the men were at work trying to rescue the miners, another explosion occurred, killing all 59 of those inside.[8]

See also


  1. US EIA, US Rankings - Coal accessed 19 May 2015
  2. Urbanek, Mae (1988). Wyoming Place Names. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. ISBN 0-87842-204-8.
  4. Phuong Le (March 25, 2013). "NW governors ask White House to exam coal exports". The San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  5. "Peabody Energy Chapter 11 Petition" (PDF). PacerMonitor. PacerMonitor. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  6. "Top coal miner Peabody files for bankruptcy". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 April 2016.
  7. 2016 State of the Interconnection page 23. WECC, 2016. Archive

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/28/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.