Governor Matt Mead announced last week that Wyoming will mine its ten billionth ton of coal in May.“This is a significant achievement for our state and country. Coal mining has provided thousands of jobs in Wyoming over the last 150 years, all the while fueling America’s economy,” Governor Mead said. “Coal has helped make America great because it is an affordable and reliable source of energy. It keeps the lights on in our homes and powers America’s industries.”
Since 1987, Wyoming has been the nation’s largest producer of coal. “Coal is the largest source of electricity in America and Wyoming proudly produces 40% of the nation’s coal. The importance of this industry to the country cannot be overstated,” Governor Mead said. “Here in Wyoming, coal has paid for the construction of our new schools, greatly benefiting our education system and local communities.”
The Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) researches the state’s coal production and geology as part of its mission. The WSGS’s coal geologist reviewed historical records dating back to 1865 when Wyoming was still a territory. He also looked at current production data from the Wyoming State Mine Inspector and calculated a total of 9,855,067,896 short tons of coal have been mined in the state through January 1, 2013.
Using historical data, the state has been able to determine its energy contribution to the nation from coal. That contribution is huge. Wyoming through its coal resources has provided nearly 176 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) in energy to the country. “This is enough energy to power the entire nation’s electricity grids for more than eight years,” said Chris Carroll, state coal geologist with the WSGS. “Our estimates for recoverable reserves show we can continue to produce this valuable resource long into the future, as well as expand into other potential international and economically viable markets.”
Wyoming’s North Antelope Rochelle and Black Thunder Coal Mines accounted for 20% of the U.S. coal production by tons in 2012. In 2012 Wyoming mines produced 401 million tons, with a total value of $4 billion.
“The mining industry is proud to have provided coal to Wyoming and the rest of the nation so that millions of people can have energy for manufacturing, clean water, refrigeration and heat,” said Marion Loomis, executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association. “The industry looks forward to supplying power from Wyoming coal – affordably, reliably – for the next 100 years.”
Wyoming is rich not only in coal resources, but also in the high quality of those resources. “Wyoming’s coal is the lowest sulfur and ash sub-bituminous coal in the country, which means it does not require washing or preparation prior to shipping to power plants,” Chris Carroll said. The quality of Wyoming coal is among the reasons it represents a major export for the state.
The WSGS has launched a new website on Wyoming’s Coal Resources as a clearing house of information for the public to access, including current production numbers, maps with layers of information and links to all the state’s mines and coal fields (via Google Earth), as well as educational pages, photos and historical records.
From the Office of Wyoming Governor Matt Mead