Constant and Continuous Improvement

Our hearts and prayers are with the widows and their families in Manisa. As this edition was going to press, the world watched with heavy hearts as surviving miners carried injured and dead miners to the surface in Turkey. More than 280 miners had perished after a fire broke out at the Soma mine, and 150 or so more were unaccounted for. The death toll will surely climb by the time this magazine hits your desk. If we ever learn the true figure for the loss of life, it will be staggering.

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Blankenship Produces a UBB Documentary

Four years have passed since families and friends lost their loved ones in the Upper Big Branch (UBB) tragedy, and Coal Age would like to express its condolences. On April 5, 2010, 29 miners were killed in an explosion at the UBB mine in West Virginia. This year when people in the region were paying their respects to the fallen miners, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship released a 51-minute documentary on YouTube (

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Find the Political Will

This month, like last month and the month before, Coal Age is publishing several stories that report the frustration that coal executives are feeling as they endure the excessive overreach by federal regulators. During February, at the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration’s annual convention, North American Coal Corp. CEO Robert Benson spoke at the Coal and Energy Division luncheon (see News, p. 9). At a little less than 30 million tons per year, North American is the ninth largest coal producer in the U.S. Benson’s message to young engineers in the audience that day was to take control of the negative political narrative that dogs our business.

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Spills Overshadow EPA’s Dubious Science

Each year for the February edition, Coal Age collects and publishes data on American longwall installations (see U.S. Longwall Census, p. 26). Readers should note two interesting trends. The first is that, year-on-year, total U.S. longwall production grew by 1.2% to 185 million tons from 183 million tons. During a period where total U.S. coal production shrunk to its lowest levels in 20 years, these installations showed growth. It’s a small number, but it’s a positive number. The other significant change is that Murray Energy now operates the most longwall faces in the U.S. — a position that CONSOL Energy has held since Coal Age began tracking this information in the mid-1980s.

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Fundamentals for Coal Look Good for 2014

By Steve Fiscor / Editor-In-Chief

What do you call a ship full of climate researchers stranded in the ice at the South Pole? A good start to a new year. Seeing those folks entertain themselves on live television via Skype, one had to wonder what it’s like when they are actually working. Is it that dissimilar? With a photo op like this, why didn’t Al Gore and his minions seize the opportunity to rescue them? Probably because they saw the debacle further debunking global climate change.

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