Between September 2014 and October 2016, approximately 243,000 mining industry jobs were lost. The all-time high for mining jobs was 852,500 in September 2014. This represents a 28% job loss—a devastating impact on individuals and communities.
In January 2017 there was a slight improvement with the addition of 5,000 new mining jobs. This is good news, but there’s a long way to go.
Closed Coal Mines are Reopening
It’s been said that once a mine is closed, it’s closed. Those jobs are gone forever. That’s not always true.
Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia announced that four metallurgical coal mines in the state would be reopening, supplying the iron and steel industries. The stated reason for the reopening is a spike in coal prices. In addition to those four mines, two additional mines, one surface mine, and one underground mine are scheduled to open in 2017. There were strong charges from his opponent before the election of political deals being instrumental in the mine openings, but voters were obviously more concerned about getting some jobs back.
In New Zealand, two historic coal mines are reopening after being shut down for many years. The new owner believes the international coal price will stabilize and there will be a steady demand for coal.
New Mining Technologies
Phosphate is an essential component of fertilizers used worldwide, considered essential in growing food for an increasing population. Phosphate has been mined in central Florida since the 1800s, with Florida being the primary location for phosphate mining in the U.S. Over time, the mines played out, costing the loss of thousands of jobs and budget cuts in local communities. Mosaic Co. is using new mining technologies to once again make phosphate mining cost-effective, expanding four old mines and planning to add two new mines.
Campaign Promises Being Kept
One of President Trump’s campaign promises was to bring back coal jobs. During his first weeks in office, he signed legislation overturning one of President Obama’s key environmental and anti-coal mining rules. The overturned rule was said to protect waterways from coal mining waste, but the goal was to close coal mines. President Trump has also signed an Executive Order revising Obama carbon initiatives. The mining industry is feeling hopeful that better days are coming.
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