A Study of U.S. Coal Mine Closures since 1994


The US coal mining industry has suffered a recent decline in profits caused by a combination of decline in commodity demand and more restrictive government regulation, forcing coal mining companies to cease production in numerous mines. A 40% decrease in the total number of coal mines occurred from 1994 to 2000. The number of mines remained relatively constant until 2008 when a change of government sparked a series of new environmental regulations which have contributed to another 15% decrease from 2008 to 2016. In contrast, production has only decreased by 3%, increasing from 1994 to 2008, and then decreasing since 2008. However, this value is skewed by large increases in sub-bituminous coal production and decreases in other coal ranks. Several aspects assist in executive decisions on mine longevity and economic worth. Studies of open source mine data collected by mandated government surveys coupled with commodity history can be used to find relationships between mine closures and these elements, which include statistics on production tonnage, seam height, coal rank, etc. This paper looks at coal mining trends since 1994 by comparing mine, market, and regulation factors that may influence mine closure.

Meeting Name

SME Annual Conference & Expo 2017: Creating Value in a Cyclical Environment (2017: Feb. 19-22, Denver, CO)


Mining Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Bituminous coal; Coal; Coal industry; Environmental regulations; Laws and legislation; Mine surveys; Plant shutdowns; Coal mining; Coal mining industry; Coal ranks; Government regulation; Mine closures; Open sources; Regulation factors; Subbituminous coal; Coal mines

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2017 Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Feb 2017