It was only one word, but it meant the world to about 200 coal miners in Illinois who had worked their tails off to build one of the country’s best underground coal mining operations. On the December 2012 Coal Age cover, I referred to Foresight Energy’s Deer Run mine as Deer Creek. Chalk it up to a mental slip, there is a Deer Creek mine in Utah. Nothing was misspelled. The author didn’t see the cover. And, in our haste to get everything to the printer to beat the holiday mail rush, we did not catch the mistake.
So, I would like to formally apologize to Chris Cline, owner, Foresight Energy; Mike Beyer, CEO, Foresight Energy; Dwayne Francisco, mine president-Deer Run mine; the two shearer operators on the cover; all of the people working at Patton Mining’s Deer Run mine; and all of the Coal Age readers. For the folks at Foresight Energy, we have reprinted the article with a modified cover to distribute to their workers. We have updated the cover on the Coal Age website. For all of the enthusiasts that collect Coal Age covers, we will be happy to email one to you if you request it.
I wish I could apologize in advance for the Annual Forecast that we are publishing in this edition, but it is what it is. The coal industry will face another difficult year in 2013. Total U.S. coal production will likely decline for the second consecutive year. The decrease is a single digit percentage decrease, but with excess production capacity, large stockpiles and soft spot pricing, 2013 will be a year of reckoning for some coal operators, especially those with high costs or questionable safety records. From a regulatory standpoint, it’s not going to get any easier.
The good news is that the U.S. coal industry will still produce about 1 billion tons (if you round up) and that’s a significant amount of coal. Success stories are beginning to surface in a sea of despair. Our cover story this month, Southern Coal, is a prime example. They have had to modify the way they do business. They have redesigned their mine plans to meet regulatory guidelines and remain as safe and efficient as possible. Similarly, they adapted their approach to sales working with customers on long-term agreements.
The U.S. coal industry continues to make great strides in the areas of safety, mine design and engineering, and processing technology. Writing off U.S. coal operators would be an unwise, premature decision at this point. History has taught us that every time it looked like the end for Old King Coal, he went on to rally. We won’t give up working for you if you don’t give up on us. Again, apologies for the mistakes. Enjoy this edition of Coal Age.
Steve Fiscor, Coal Age Editor-In-Chief