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U.S. Has Fewest Coal Mines Since the Lightbulb Was Patented

  • Litany of challenges has forced industry to shut mines
  • Improved technology helping larger mines boost productivity
Coal miners in Wind Ridge, Pennsylvania.

Coal miners in Wind Ridge, Pennsylvania.

Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg
Updated on

The 21st century looks a lot like the 19th for U.S. coal.

America ended 2013 with the fewest coal mines operating since the late 1800’s and the shutdowns have continued as companies cope with a slew of hurdles, from cheap natural gas to increasingly stringent environmental regulations, according to an Energy Information Administration report Thursday.