Mining study: Exporting coal adds thousands of U.S. jobs
“The top line is that we are documenting what is generally known in terms of the economic contribution of coal exports to our economy. From a macro standpoint, almost 126 million tons of coal are being exported and it supports more than 168,000 jobs, beginning with coal mining and the entire supply chain and transportation — rail and barge jobs — and logistics and ports and ancillary industries that support mining and the supply chain,” said Hal Quinn, CEO of the National Mining Association, citing updated 2012 data points.
For instance, he noted Louisiana is a major port of departure for U.S. coal and the state benefits from those export jobs. According to the study in 2011 Louisiana accounted for 20 percent of U.S. coal exports, and about 12 percent of that went to Asia.
As demand for coal grows in places likeChina and India coal exports will become more important, Quinn said. In 2011, the last year that had complete data, the U.S. produced 1.1 billion short tons of coal, of which 974 million was used here and 107 million was exported. Exports accounted for 10 percent of total production.
Just five years ago the U.S. exported 55 million short tons, or 5 percent of total production.
There are projects in the works to improve some of the export infrastructure, Quinn said, and if coal is set to be a primary energy source globally getting it efficiently to ports and out of ports is critical.
“It can be a state like Missouri or North Carolina where coal isn’t being mined in those areas but industries that service the coal supply chain both from railroads and barges and all the various industries that get built into building rail cars and maintaining barges and parts original equipment manufacturers that are located in states throughout the country,” Quinn said.
Some Pennsylvania data points from the study which looked at the year 2011:
- 3,540 workers were directly employed in coal production for export
- 9,720 workers were employed directly, indirectly and in induced jobs in coal production for export
- 12,510 workers were employed in all coal production for export including downstream and port and cargo operations
- Workers across the coal export spectrum had $828 million of labor income and $1.5 billion of gross value add.
- Of Pennsylvania’s total coal production, 57.4 million short tons, 25 percent was exported.
Malia Spencer covers energy and technology.