June 15, 2017 Read More →

Entrenched Downturn in Southwestern Coal Industry


Coal production and jobs in the southwestern United States have declined precipitously over the past five years as the industry has dealt with numerous setbacks.

Mines in the Uinta Basin and the Four Corners area and other mines in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California have suffered from toughened state regulations and have felt the impact of larger market trends affecting the industry nationwide, such as the shift to natural gas and lower global demand for U.S. coal.

Even as Uinta Basin mines shows some signs of bouncing back from the bottom in Uinta Basin quarters, the largest mines in the Southwest saw production drop 30% from about 64.5 million tons in 2012 to about 45.1 million tons in 2016, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Average employment at the top 20 mines fell from 4,369 in 2012 to 3,823 in 2016, but the drop was much steeper across all Southwest mines, falling by about a third over the past five years.

Peabody Energy Corp. owns three of the largest mines in the area, including Kayenta, the top mine in the Southwest today. It dropped from about 7.5 million tons of output in 2012 to about 5.4 million tons in 2016, and production is further threatened by the impending closure of the Navajo power plant, which the Kayenta mine supplies.

($) Coal industry decline weighs heavily on jobs, output in Southwest US

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