2015 saw the lowest number of coal mine deaths on record since the Mine Safety and Health Administration began tracking. MSHA reported that eleven miners died on the job in 2015. This marks a consecutive 3 year drop in mining related fatalities across the U.S. The most recent spike in coal deaths occurred in 2010 when an explosion at the W. Va. Upper Big Branch mine killed 29 miners bringing that year’s total to 48 deaths. The federal government has cited increased inspections by MSHA, after the Upper Big Branch tragedy, as a reason for the decline. MSHA has continued to look into mines which have questionable safety records using surprise inspections. Another possibility for the decline fatalities, according to Peterson, is the drop in employment within the coal industry country-wide.
In other news, Monday, Jan. 4th, saw the first coal mining fatality of 2016. As reported by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, the W. Va. Office of Miner’s Health, Safety, and Training confirmed the death of Peter Dale Sprouse. Sprouse was a belt man and fire boss at the Greenbrier Minerals Lower War Eagle Mine in Cyclone W. Va., according to the MHST media release. 53 year old Sprouse lost his life early Monday morning from injuries sustained while operating a belt roller. The Office of Miner’s Health, Safety, and Training are currently conducting an investigation and work at the mine where Sprouse was employed has been idled.
Newly elected Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, has appointed a coal industry executive to be the secretary of the state’s Energy and Environment Cabinet. Charles G. Snavely is the former but most recent treasurer of the Kentucky Coal Association and recent president of Eastern U.S. Operations for Arch Coal, Inc.,. Snavely, a current Lexington resident and native of Prestonsburg, KY said of the appointment -(quote) I will do everything in my power to further our progress on protecting the environment while helping nurture a healthy economy. (end quote) According to a report by WFPL, Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett said Snavely resigned his post as their treasurer the day Governor Bevin appointed him as the Secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet. Governor Bevin states in a news release – (quote) Snavely’s professionalism and leadership experience in the industry are well known. (end quote) Snavely secedes Len Peters, a trained chemical engineer and appointee of former Governor Steve Brashear, in the office.
Finally, according to the state run Xinhua News Agency, the Chinese government has issued a 3-year moratorium on granting new licenses for mining coal in the country. China is the world’s largest coal producer and consumer, but according to the Chinese media, the government has said it will reduce its use of coal by 2% in 2016. This announcement coincides with a slowing of the Chinese economy, which affects energy demands within China.
The Coal Report is a weekly production of WMMT. It is assembled from newspapers and press services and reports coal-related material as these sources give it. It does not represent the opinion of WMMT on the matters discussed. Our aim is to reflect both local developments regarding coal and the big picture we’re a part of. For feedback, comments, or questions, email [email protected]