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Coal mining

In this file photo, heavy equipment moves coal outside Signal Peak Energy's Bull Mountain mine near Roundup.

Coal companies in the United States boosted production of the fuel in 2017 to reverse a two-year decline.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Thursday that companies mined 771 million tons of coal through Dec. 30, a 6 percent increase versus 2016.

Wyoming, the largest coal state, saw production rise 8 percent. Neighboring Montana had a 5 percent increase.

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Among other coal states, production rose 13 percent in West Virginia, 8 percent in Pennsylvania and 10 percent in Illinois. Kentucky's production was relatively flat.

Despite the increases, coal's long-term prospects remain shaky. Natural gas and renewables such as wind and solar have severely eroded coal's once-dominant role in U.S. electricity generation.

In the last week of 2017, the government says coal production fell 32 percent versus the previous week.

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