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Coal is Still King in West Virginia, But For How Long? 

A recent study commissioned by the West Virginia Coal Association and conducted by the West Virginia University Bureau for Business and Economic Research, shows in 2019 the coal mining industry and coal-fired power plants generated approximately $14 billion in economic activity for the state.

The industries supported 17% of the state’s total economic output or one out of every six dollars generated, the study showed. For context, total economic output for the state (GDP) was around $77 billion.

“This study clearly points out the significance of West Virginia coal to our economy and state,” said West Virginia Coal Association President Chris Hamilton. “We hope more people realize we have a special coal-based electric power system second to none. We have a very sophisticated fuel supply and electric generating infrastructure in West Virginia which is both reliable and low cost. We have among the lowest cost electric rates in our region and equally important today is the fact that our system offers superior advantages with the secured delivery of household and industrial power. Our state plants, like our modern coal mining facilities, are also state-of-the-art and represent the cleanest, most efficient coal plants in the world that provide thousands of opportunities for high-tech and highly skilled workers.”

According to the study, the mining and coal-fired power generation industries in West Virginia combined to account for 33,000 jobs, $2.8 billion in employee compensation, $611 million in state and local tax revenues and $13.9 billion in total economic activity in 2019.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com.

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Keeping the Lights On 

It’s no secret energy production is crucial to North Dakota’s economy. As the state looks into the future, it is essential to understand how the energy landscape is changing. There is significant pressure from the new Presidential administration and states around the nation to only purchase carbon-free electrons. The North Dakota Legislature, partnering with the Governor’s office and our D.C. delegation, has taken a deep look into these new pressures on the energy industry and grid reliability.

The current state of North Dakota’s energy production is broad and diverse: Coal-fired power plants account for 63% of North Dakota’s electricity generation, and 5 of the state’s 10 largest power plants are coal-fired. The rest of the state’s electricity generation comes primarily from wind energy, which supplied about 27% of generation, and from hydroelectric power that provided 7%. A small amount of generation, almost 3%, was fueled by natural gas. At the end of 2019, the state nearly 1,900 turbines. It is evident by the current energy marketplace, North Dakota believes in an “all the above” energy solution.


A bulldozer scrapes dirt atop a layer of lignite at the Center Mine.

This winter was a stark reminder of how precarious energy production and transmission can be. Rolling brown and blackouts around the nation intensified ongoing conversations about grid reliability. Our state and nation must navigate the difficulties of balancing traditional power generation (coal, natural gas) with newer, less consistent power generation (wind, solar). Leaders of the state want to be proactive in assisting our states energy producers in keeping up with the changing landscape.

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), on the campus of UND, is a great resource our state provides to all of our energy industry partners. The EERC studies and develops new and emerging technologies to foster growth in all areas of energy. They have been a crucial partner in developing enhanced oil recovery, carbon capture, more efficient uses of coal, and other technological advancements.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com. 

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DOE to Invest $6 Million Putting Coal Waste to Work Creating Products for the Clean Energy Economy

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has announced $6 million in Federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002405, Advanced Coal Waste Processing: Production of Coal-Enhanced Filaments or Resins for Advanced Manufacturing and Research and Development of Coal-Derived Graphite.

In a shifting energy generation paradigm, innovation is needed to extract the full economic value from coal waste. The Advanced Coal Processing program at NETL seeks to address this challenge by supporting novel technologies to produce valuable products from coal waste-derived sources through laboratory- and pilot-scale R&D.

The use of coal waste in additive manufacturing and graphite production aligns with the goals of the Biden/Harris administration to expand and develop existing and new environmentally sound uses for coal waste, and to deploy these technologies in economically distressed power plant and coal communities. While both coal from existing mines and coal wastes are acceptable feedstocks for these innovations, the use of coal wastes (e.g. tailings, ash, etc.) is preferred. This strategy encourages job creation as the nation transitions to clean energy and will help ensure that the cost of the energy transition is not disproportionately borne by these coal communities.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com. 

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Heavy Metal Manufacturer Announces $3.2 Million Expansion in Southwest Virginia, Creating 40 New Jobs

Lawrence Brothers, Inc., an industry leader in battery tray fabrication and manufacturing of motive power trays, ground support systems, and transformer components, will invest $3.2 million to expand its operation in Tazewell County, Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday.

The company will upgrade and modernize machinery and equipment to increase capacity and double production at its facility at Lawrence Road in Bluefield, Va., creating 40 new jobs, the governor’s office said.

CEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher, presents a ceremonial check for $400,000 to Melanie Protti-Lawrence, president of Lawrence Brothers, Inc., representing the loan made by VCEDA to Lawrence Brothers Inc. for the company’s latest expansion project in Southwest Virginia’s e-Region.

“We are dedicated to providing a skilled manufacturing workforce so Virginia companies like Lawrence Brothers can continue contributing to the growth of this important sector,” Northam said. “Supporting existing businesses as they adapt and modernize is key to maintaining a strong and resilient economy as we rebound from the pandemic, and we appreciate the company’s commitment to Tazewell County and our Commonwealth.”

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) awarded a $400,000 loan to help purchase equipment for the expansion. At the time of the application to VCEDA, Lawrence Brothers employed 70 workers. The new expansion will see the company’s employment numbers grow to 110 within five years, VCEDA Executive Director Jonanthan Belcher said in a press release.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com. 

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Reliability Crisis Déjà Vu

Texas, again.

Just weeks after the February power disaster that left more than 130 dead, thousands homeless and put 70% of the state in the dark, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) came stunningly close to declaring another grid emergency on Tuesday. On a relatively mild day – no deep freeze nor roasting summer heat – electricity demand nearly eclipsed supply.

Electricity prices in Texas soared to their cap. Power conservation pleas went out to consumers. It was the worst kind of déjà vu for a state still reeling from February’s nightmare.

This near catastrophe came as about 25% of the state’s generating capacity was off-line for maintenance following February’s freeze and in anticipation of soaring demand and tough operating conditions during summer months. Warmer than forecasted weather sent electricity demand higher than ERCOT expected and cloudy conditions coupled with lower wind speeds sapped renewable power. None of these conditions should have pushed the grid to the brink of an emergency. But ERCOT’s problems are real and deep and have experts scared for what’s to come this summer when electricity demand soars.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com.

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