Note: Reactivated mines are those mines with production reported in previous years but not in the preceding year.
The number of new and reactivated coal mines that began production in 2013 fell to the lowest level in at least the past 10 years. The addition of 103 mines in 2013 came as 271 mines were idled or closed, resulting in a 14% decline in the total number of producing coal mines from 2012 to 2013. The 2013 total was 397 fewer coal mines than in 2008, when coal production was at its highest. Although preliminary 2014 data on coal production from the Mine Safety and Health Administration indicate a slight increase both in production and in new and reactivated mines for 2014, these levels will still be below previous levels.
The declining number of new mines reflects reduced investment in the coal industry, strong competition from natural gas, stagnant electricity demand, a weak coal export market, and regulatory and permitting challenges. The lower number of new mines and the closing of less-efficient mines resulted in 2013 having the lowest number of active coal mines on record.
Note: Idled mines include both temporary and permanent closures.