Rising exports of U.S. coal to Europe and Asia added $16.6 billion to the U.S. economy in 2011, making significant contributions to America's economic recovery and job creation in many industrial sectors as well as in regions far beyond the nation's coalfields.

In a recent report released by the National Mining Association (NMA), the industry’s national trade group, analysts at Ernst & Young found that the 107 million short tons of American coal exported in 2011 supported 141,270 high-wage jobs, paying nearly 50 percent above industry averages.
The report, called U.S. Coal Exports: National and State Economic Contributions, claims that about 168,430 jobs were supported by the 125.7 million tons exported last year, a record volume.

Meanwhile, each million tons of coal exported supported 1,320 jobs, according to the study, which was commissioned by the NMA to document the broad benefits of U.S. coal exports.

This report, says NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn, confirms the valuable contributions that the American economy derives from U.S. coal exports.

“These benefits include good jobs for American workers – from the mines to rail transport and port facilities – as well as new revenue for state and local governments pressed to fund essential services,” he explains.

At the same time, the survey says, rising off-shore demand has steadily boosted the share of domestically-mined coal sold abroad.

From 2000 to 2010, U.S. coal mines exported about 5 percent of total production on average but have since doubled the export share to average 10 percent of production.

“The U.S. has the world’s largest supply of coal at a time when the rest of the world – from Germany to China – is using more coal to ensure affordable and reliable electricity and as an essential input in steelmaking,” Quinn says.

The benefits have been especially rich for the nation’s top exporting states, including Virginia, Louisiana, and Maryland. Particularly valuable for job creation, Quinn says, has been the export from Appalachian mines of metallurgical coal used in steelmaking, which comprised 65 percent of total coal exports.

Average annual income per worker in the coal export market is $96,100, the study reveals, a rather rare example of new high-wage job creation in an economy struggling to create good employment opportunities.

“These findings underscore the potential for other states, especially on the West Coast, to benefit economically from sharply rising coal demand from Asia projected over the coming decades,” Quinn says.

The National Mining Association (NMA) is U.S. mining’s advocate in Washington, D.C. and beyond. NMA is the only national trade organization that represents the interests of mining before Congress, the administration, federal agencies, the judiciary and the media—providing a clear voice for U.S. mining.


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