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Coal explained Where our coal comes from

Where the United States gets its coal

In 2019, about 706 million short tons of coal were produced in 23 U.S. states. Surface mines were the source of 62% of total U.S. coal production and accounted for 65% of the total number of mines. About 0.5 million tons, or less than 0.1% of total coal production, was refuse recovery coal.

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  • Five states accounted for about 71% of total U.S. coal production in 2019:
  • Wyoming39.2%
  • West Virginia13.2%
  • Pennsylvania7.1%
  • Illinois6.5%
  • Kentucky5.1%

Coal is mainly found in three regions: the Appalachian coal region, the Interior coal region, and the Western coal region (includes the Powder River Basin).

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The two largest coal mines in the United States are the North Antelope Rochelle and Black Thunder mines in Wyoming. Together, the two mines produced 22% of total U.S. coal production in 2019. The North Antelope Rochelle mine alone produced more coal in 2019 than the combined total coal production of Illinois and Kentucky, the fourth and fifth largest coal-producing states respectively.

Map of the United States showing Coal Production by Coal Producing Region, 2019 (million short tons). Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Coal Report, October 2020

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Facts and data for each coal-producing region for 2019

Appalachian coal region

  • The Appalachian coal region includes Alabama, Eastern Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • About 27% of the coal produced in the United States came from the Appalachian coal region.
  • West Virginia is the largest coal-producing state in the region and the second-largest coal-producing state in the United States.
  • Underground mines supplied 78% of the coal produced in the Appalachian region.
  • Underground mines in the Appalachian region produced 56% of U.S. total underground coal mine production.

Interior coal region

  • The Interior coal region includes Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Western Kentucky.
  • About 18% of total U.S. coal was mined in the Interior coal region.
  • Illinois was the largest coal producer in the Interior coal region, accounting for 36% of the region's coal production and 6% of total U.S. coal production.
  • Underground mines supplied 64% of the region's coal production, and surface mines supplied 36%.

Western coal region

  • The Western coal region includes Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
  • About 55% of total U.S. coal production was mined in the Western coal region.
  • Wyoming, the largest coal-producing state in the United States, produced 39% of total U.S. coal production and 72% of the coal mined in the Western coal region.
  • Six of the top ten largest U.S. coal-producing mines were in Wyoming, and all of those mines are surface mines.
  • Surface mines produced 91% of the coal in the Western coal region.

Last updated: October 9, 2020