coal industry

Open for Discussion: The Fate of the Coal Industry

coal industry

Here we go again; or maybe not? The latest round of bankruptcies and closures came as a shock to many of the miners in the industry. At the beginning of July, Blackjewel Mine abruptly closed two of its operations in Wyoming, immediately displacing 600 workers and filed for emergency bankruptcy. Although some are saying that the mines closed due to poor management, it still has a devastating effect on the industry psyche.

U.S. coal mines were making a resurgence from the pre-2015 coal downturn, fueling feelings of optimism and hope. As a recruiter specializing in the mining industry, I witnessed first-hand, and with a heavy heart, the devastation of the last downturn and the mass exodus of coal miners from the industry. That incredible talent left the mining industry to pursue new careers, with no intention of returning.

The coal industry produces more than just energy

Coal is vital to our world. I personally do not see coal permanently going away, despite the talk. Natural gas has pushed coal out of the power plant business, but they too have their issues. Solar and wind power (green energies) take up too much valuable real estate; both of these are also scrutinized for harming the environment. Nuclear energy, also touted as green energy, has already proven just how much more devastating it can be to the environment; much more so than coal.

The good news is that data predicts global coal will continue to grow into 2022, even though the major players are scaling down. The coal industry shows just how resilient the people of mining are. The Mining team here at JSG is looking for mining professionals. If you are one of these displaced workers or just looking to further your career, contact us! We have dozens of job opportunities in the mining & heavy industrial industry.

mining facts

10 More Interesting Mining Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

mining facts

After a slump in October 2016, mining is on a comeback! Just in June 2018 alone, the mining industry added 5,000 new jobs with no sign of slowing down. From the ocean floor to the recycling center, mining marches on!

Here are some quick mining facts that you may not know:

  1. The average coal miner is 45 years old and has 16 years of mining experience.
  2. Gold isn’t just found on dry land; there is enough gold on the seafloor to give every person alive nine pounds of it! Oh, yes, please!!
  3. The US debt clock currently shows the dollar to silver ratio at $641 per oz and the dollar to gold ratio at $5,034 per oz!  Stackers, rejoice!
  4. The majority of lead produced today is recycled from batteries and over 80% of Zinc available for recycling is currently in use. Sustainability at its best!
  5. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, a television requires 35 different minerals, telephones use 40 minerals, and car manufacturing uses 15 minerals!
  6. Coal ash, a by-product of coal combustion, is used in tennis rackets, golf balls, and linoleum. If coal ash was no longer used in golf balls, how would that effect Tiger’s game?!
  7. Each person in the United States uses 3 tons of coal a year! Yep!
  8. Wyoming may be the top producer of coal in the U.S., but Montana has the most coal reserves. Take that, Wyoming.
  9. In 2015, active mining operations in the U.S. consisted of sand and gravel (47.3%), stone (32.4%), coal (11.0%), non-metal (7.0%), and metal (2.4%)
  10. The word “silver” translates to “money” in more than 14 languages, with the Rupee being one of them.

Mining produces so many vital metals and minerals that we cannot live without. Where would we be without mining? Not watching our TV’s, driving our cars, and texting on our phones. The next time you run into a miner, thank them. Their job is not easy, but they make our lives much more so.

10 more mining facts

Pretty cool stuff, right? If you enjoyed these facts, check out my other blog with another 10 interesting mining facts you probably didn’t know.


Coal: More Than Just Energy! coal, Johnson Search Group, golf, fly ash, synthetic fuel, coking, lice, mining

Coal: More Than Just Energy!

Everyone knows that coal is used heavily in energy applications, but did you know that coal byproducts have a strong presence in our everyday lives? From perfume to golf balls, coal makes its mark!

1. Fly ash is a byproduct of coal burning and using it in concrete, not only makes it stronger, but it lasts longer and less likely to crack from water freezing, it is less detrimental to the environment when used in concrete. Concrete is used about twice as much as every other building material combined; woods, metals, and plastics.

Coal: More Than Just Energy!2. Coal tar which is distilled from coal, not only contains antiseptic qualities, but is it used in soap used by dermatologists. It is a favorite for skin disorders!

3. Did you know that coal can be made into a synthetic diesel fuel? The process is called Fischer-Tropsch (T-T) synthesis and it was discovered a century ago.

4. Throwing in a little “ewww” factor; Lice Shampoo can contain coal tar and is very effective in eliminating the unwanted!

5. Coking coal, which is also known as metallurgical coal, is primarily used in steel production. 70% of the world’s steel output depends on coal.

Coal: More Than Just Energy!

6. When coal is heated, the extracted tars can be used to make roofing shingles, linoleum, plastic and synthetic rubber.

7. Back in the day, coal was converted into a type of natural gas to light street lights, homes and production plants.

8. Coal is used to make perfume. It allows the smell to last longer and evaporate more slowly.

9. In a process called gasification, coal is converted to produce ammonia to make nitrogen fertilizers.

10. While it is believed that diamonds come from coal, it is widely accepted that the only thing coal and diamonds have in common is carbon.  Most diamonds predate plants and the rest are said to have come from large asteroid strikes to the earth or high-pressure volcanic activity below the earth’s mantle.

(Other sources: 1 | 2 | 3)

Nuclear Energy: The Coal Alternative, nuclear, coal, mining, industrial,

Nuclear Energy: The Coal Alternative

The Zero Carbon Footprint?

It is a proven fact that nuclear energy has minimal emissions compared to that of coal and therefore, produces a minimal carbon footprint on the world… until things go wrong, that is. Nuclear energy has been a prevalent source of power for decades, throughout the world. The USA alone has approximately 109 commercial nuclear power plants (NPPs) that are licensed to operate in 30 states.   So, what can go wrong?

Chart From NCPA

Chart From NCPA

Since 1986; 30 years to date, the world has seen at least 16 (3 from Fukushima) partial to complete nuclear meltdowns pertaining to NPPs. Yet as of 1952, there have been more than 100 serious nuclear accidents and incidents from the use of nuclear power according to Wikipedia; referencing Benjamin K. Sovacool’s A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 40, No. 3, August 2010, pp. 393–400, fifty-seven of those accidents have occurred since the Chernobyl disaster (1986), and about 60% of all nuclear-related accidents have occurred in the USA. Chernobyl (Ukraine; previously the U.S.S.R.) and Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture (Japan), being the two worst nuclear reactor “incidents”, will be the primary focus of this exposé in addressing the nuclear power industry as a whole. Fukushima is an ecological tragedy that has appeared to have been swept under the rug; rather, drained into the Pacific Ocean. Following the 2011 Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster, authorities shut down the nation’s 54 NPPs. In 2014, they strategically released radioactive contaminated water from Reactor 1, into the Pacific Ocean.

Nuclear Energy: The Coal Alternative

As of today, the Fukushima site remains highly radioactive, with over 120,000 evacuees still living in temporary housing and some of that land will be un-farmable for centuries. The difficult cleanup job will take 40 or more years, and hundreds of billions of dollars. Sitting on the banks of the Pacific Ocean, these 3 NPPs suffered from what many other fault line NPPs might succumb to. While some say there is no longer any radioactive runoff into the Pacific Ocean and the frozen underground wall and water in the port have been contained, independent testing tells a different story of dangerously high radiation. A 2016 Google Map shows the port is still exposed to the Pacific Ocean. What most people don’t know is that the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean have been a nuclear waste dumping ground for decades, with multiple culprits, including the U.S. Just off the coast of California’s San Francisco Bay alone, The United States government dumped in just 300 feet of water, an admitted 47,800 drums of radioactive waste and other radioactive items. Now known as Greater Farallones National Marines Sanctuary, it is protected habitat. While that sounds like a lot, the US dumped almost 6 times as much off our east coast. While that seems outrageous, multi-culprit dumping occurred between 1946 and 1993 when 37 countries finally agreed to a ban on dumping nuclear poison into the ocean. the United States came in fourth place for official dumping numbers. For perspective, during that timeframe, the U.S. dumped 2,942 units (around 325,000 55 gallon barrels), the USSR dumped, 38,369 units (almost 162 million pounds or roughly 4 million barrels), the United Kingdom dumped 35,088 units (~160,000,000 pounds) and Switzerland dumped 4,419 units – or the equivalent of 5,321 tons. This is just known dumping into the ocean. With the U.S. leading the world in nuclear power, one has to ask; what has been, and is being done with all of the nuclear waste?  It has to go somewhere.

Nuclear energy compared to coal energy, produces incredible waste with virtually no way to safely dispose of it or clean it up, and considering many of these plants are built on fault lines, appears to be a ticking nuclear time bomb. But at least there is only a minuscule carbon footprint.  Whew!

Nuclear Energy: The Coal Alternative

The coal industry has been vilified as a horrendous polluter of the world.  What people are quick to forget, is that coal has helped humanity survive, thrive, industrialize and has over all improved quality of life, for millennium.  With coal supplying 30% of global energy and nuclear only 4%, clean coal IS the future and the US is being left on the ash pile.  New technologies are coming out that can incredibly diminish the “carbon footprint” of coal.  Coal giant Peabody Energy, a private firm headquartered in Missouri and who filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in April of this year, has joined half a dozen other firms and various branches of the Chinese government to build a billion dollar carbon-eating facility in the city of Tianjin, called GreenGen, which extracts carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants and channels it into underground storage areas. Known as carbon capture and storage, GreenGen is one of the world’s most advanced attempts to develop this technology. China, with a poor history of being ecologically friendly and not joining the carbon emission bandwagon, has once again gone rouge – but in a good way – with the creation of GreenGen. More than three quarters of China’s power comes from coal; Germany, is getting half of its power from coal; Poland, generates 86 percent of its electricity from coal and South Africa, Israel, Australia, Indonesia are even more dependent on coal; and to top it all off: new coal plants are being built around the world.  According to the World Resources Institute, an environmental research group, “almost 1,200 new coal facilities in 59 countries are proposed for construction it is clear that coal is not going anywhere.”

It is fortunate that Peabody has been industrious enough to survive by participating in and contributing its technology to the clean coal movement.  There is a reason more plants are being built and usage of coal is rising worldwide. The US must rise to the occasion or be left behind. The U.S. holds 28% of the world’s known coal; while the rest of the world is embracing clean coal, and putting their people to work, the US has shuttered plants.

Companies such as Peabody Energy need to be allowed to bring their innovation back home; Heavy Industrial manufactures such as Caterpillar, need a strong domestic market to be able to thrive, here, in the US.