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Mine Closures

Craig Wakefield, a 10-year veteran of Blackjewel's Belle Ayr coal mine, listens to officials talk during a public meeting in Gillette after the shutdown of Belle Ayr and a second coal mine in early July. Third quarter production numbers for the Powder River Basin showed a 7.7% decrease in 2019.

CASPER, Wyo. — Coal production in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming continued to decline in the third quarter of 2019, federal data showed.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration published the information Thursday showing a 7.7% decrease in year-to-date production, Casper Star-Tribune reports.

National coal production fell 6.9% in the third quarter of 2019 compared to the same quarter in 2018.

U.S. coal consumption decreased 13.4% compared to the same period in 2018.

Wyoming produces the most coal of any state in the country, with the majority sent to customers outside the state.

PacifiCorp is the largest grid operator in the western U.S. and Wyoming's largest utility, with many of the company's coal plants located in rural Wyoming communities. The company announced in October it would speed up the closure of about two-thirds of its national coal operations.

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Jason Begger, executive director of Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, said he is working to advance carbon capture technology to preserve the state's coal industry due to the large amount of tax revenue and economic activity it generates.

“Even though (coal markets) are going to fundamentally change, you don’t just throw your hands up and say, ‘We’re just walking away from this,'” Begger said.

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