Wyoming is coal country. The state is the nation’s top coal producer, accounting for 39 percent of all the coal mined in the United States. Coal is a key energy resource, providing for 37 percent of all the electricity generated in the nation. Wyoming produces the majority of this coal. This fossil fuel is the second largest source of revenue in Wyoming, and in 2013 contributed more than $1 billion to state and local governments. The coal mined in Wyoming is sub-bituminous, low sulfur coal, which is primarily used as steam coal for electrical plants. Because Wyoming coal is so low in sulfur it does not require washing, and is often blended with the coal found in other states, which tends to be higher in sulfur.
2014 Wyoming Coal Mining Facts
Estimates for 2013 indicate that Wyoming coal production fell by 3.3 percent since 2012, from 401 million tons to 388 million tons. However, the average spot price of Powder River Basin coal increased by 6.7 percent, from $9.91 per ton in 2012, to more than $10.58 per ton in 2013.
The recent coal production decline has been fueled by more stringent air quality standards and low natural gas prices that have resulted in many utilities switching from coal to natural gas-fired power plants.
In May 2013, Wyoming produced its 10 billionth ton of coal over the 150-year history of coal mining in the state. The North Antelope/Rochelle Mine produced more than 111 million tons of coal in 2013, or 11 percent of the entire nation’s coal.