Mining Association: 2011 Coal Exports Supported 24,000 WV Jobs

The State Journal
22 May 2013
By Pam Kasey

Coal exports supported nearly 24,000 jobs in West Virginia in 2011, according to a new study commissioned by the National Mining Association.

About 35 million tons of the 131 million tons produced by the state in 2011 was exported, creating almost $1.6 billion in labor income and more than $3 billion in value added.

Rising exports of U.S. coal to Europe and Asia have made significant contributions to America's economic recovery and job creation in many industrial sectors and in regions far beyond the nation's coalfields, the trade group said in its media release.

In "U.S. Coal Exports: National and State Economic Contributions," released May 22 by the NMA, Ernst & Young analysts found that coal exports added $16.6 billion to the U.S. economy in 2011.

The 107 million short tons of American coal exported in 2011 supported 141,000 high-wage jobs paying nearly 50 percent above industry averages.

And, according to preliminary 2012 figures, an estimated 168,000 jobs were supported by the record 126 million tons exported.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects exports to be sharply down this year, projecting a figure 105 million tons.

But in 2011, each ton of coal exported supported 1,320 jobs, said the NMA-commissioned study.

"This report confirms the valuable contributions that our economy derives from U.S. coal exports," said NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn. "These benefits include good jobs for American workers — from the mines to rail transport and port facilities — as well as new revenue for state and local governments pressed to fund essential services."

Rising offshore demand has steadily boosted the share of domestically mined coal sold abroad. From 2000 to 2010, U.S. coal mines exported about 5 percent of total production on average but they've since doubled the export share to average 10 percent of production.

"The U.S. has the world's largest supply of coal at a time when the rest of the world — from Germany to China — is using more coal to ensure affordable and reliable electricity and as an essential input in steelmaking," Quinn said.

The benefits have been richest for the port states that export the most coal, including Virginia, Louisiana and Maryland. Particularly valuable for job creation has been the export from Appalachian mines of metallurgical coal used in steelmaking, which comprised 65 percent of total coal exports.

Average annual income per worker in the coal export market is $96,100, which the NMA called a rare example of new high-wage job creation in an economy struggling to create good employment opportunities.

"These findings underscore the potential for other states, especially on the West Coast, to benefit economically from sharply rising coal demand from Asia projected over the coming decades," Quinn said.

The report may be found online at