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Coal explained Where our coal comes from

Where the United States gets its coal

In 2017, about 775 million short tons of coal were produced in 24 U.S. states. Surface mines were the source of 65% of total U.S. coal production and accounted for 64% of the total number of mines. About 0.7 million tons, or about 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 2017:
  • Wyoming41%
  • West Virginia12%
  • Pennsylvania6%
  • Illinois6%
  • Kentucky5%

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 2017. The North Antelope Rochelle mine alone produced more coal in 2017 than all of West Virginia, the second-largest coal-producing state.

Map of the United States showing Coal Production by Coal Producing Region, 2017 (million short tons). Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Coal Report, November 2018

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Facts and data for each coal-producing region for 2017

Appalachian coal region

  • The Appalachian coal region includes Alabama, Eastern Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • About 26% 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 19% 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 33% of the region's coal production and 6% of total U.S. coal production.
  • Underground mines supplied 56% of the region's coal production, and surface mines supplied 44%.

Western coal region

  • The Western coal region includes Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
  • About 56% of total U.S. coal production was mined in the Western coal region.
  • Wyoming, the largest coal-producing state in the United States, produced 41% of total U.S. coal production and 73% of the coal mined in the Western coal region.
  • Seven of the top ten 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: November 9, 2018