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Report: Half of U.S. coal mines operating in 2008 have closed | TribLIVE.com
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Report: Half of U.S. coal mines operating in 2008 have closed

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More than half of the U.S. coal mines operating in 2008 have since closed, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Most of the mine closures were in the Appalachian states of Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the EIA said.

The closings were driven by the decreasing demand for coal and the declining profitability of smaller mines, especially in Appalachia, the EIA said.

In the United States, decreasing demand for coal has contributed to lower coal production, which has fallen by more than one-third since peak production in 2008, the agency said.

As U.S. coal demand has declined, the number of active coal mines has decreased by more than half — from 1,435 mines in 2008 to 671 mines in 2017, the EIA said. As the U.S. market contracted, smaller, less efficient mines were the first to close.

Although underground mines had a larger percentage of closures from 2008 to 2017 (60 percent versus 49 percent of surface mines), surface mines have seen larger declines in production, falling 39 percent compared with 24 percent for underground mines, the EIA said.