The West Virginia Mining Industry is critical to the economy and well being of the state and  the nation.  We have assembled the following WEST VIRGINIA COAL MINING FACTS from various sources. Refer to the list of sources at the bottom of this page.  Also there are hyperlinks within the text so the reader may navigate to related pages within our website. 


  • Coal was first discovered in what is now West Virginia in 1742 by John Peter Salley in what is now Boone County.
  • Coal occurs in  53  of West Virginia’s 55 Counties   only Jefferson and Hardy in the eastern panhandle have no coal.
  • Forty-three counties have reserves of minable (economic) coal.
  • There are 117 named coal seams in West Virginia.
  • Sixty-five seams are considered minable.
  • In 2009 coal was produced from 51 different coal seams in West Virginia.
  • The Pittsburgh coal seam accounted for nearly 31 million tons of production in 2009.
  • West Virginia has 4% of all coal reserves.


  • Annually, 28 West Virginia counties produce coal.
  • McDowell County has produced more coal than any other county in West Virginia.
  • The West Virginia Coal Industry provides about 30,000 direct jobs in WV, including miners, mine contractors, coal preparation plant employees and mine supply companies.
  • Underground mines in 2009 produced 87 million tons with 33 million tons from longwall mining.
  • Surface mines account for nearly 60 million tons of production each year.
  • In 2009 Surface mines produced 56 million tons with over 43 million from Mountain Top mining.
  • In 2009 West Virginia mines produced over 144 million tons.
  • West Virginia leads the nation in underground coal production.


  • Taxes paid by the coal industry and by utility companies that make electricity using West Virginia coal account for two-thirds, or over 60% of business taxes paid in our state.
  • The coal industry pays approximately $70 million in property taxes annually.
  • The Coal Severance Tax adds approximately $214 million into West Virginia’s economy.
  • Twenty-four million dollars of coal severance taxes collected each year goes directly into the Infrastructure Bond Fund.
  • All 55 counties, even the non-coal producing counties receive Coal Severance Tax funds.
  • The coal industry payroll is nearly $2 billion per year.
  • Coal is responsible for more than $3.5 billion annually in the gross state product.


  • More than half of the nation’s electricity is generated from coal.
  • In West Virginia 99% of the generated electricity comes from coal.
  • There are currently 14 coal fired electric generating facilities located in West Virginia.
  • Coal provides the majority of electric power in 32 states.


  • Since 1983, yearly fatal accidents have totaled less than 20 per year, the only exceptions being 1991, 2006 and 2010.
  • The 3 fatal accidents recorded in 2009 represent the lowest total since WV has kept records.
  • The last year mining deaths exceeded 100 was in 1968 when 152 miners lost their lives in West Virginia mines.
  • Lost-time injuries totaled about 809 in the last reporting year (2009).
  • Over 5,900 inspections of WV mining operations were conducted by WVMHS&T inspection personnel in 2009.
  • Over 16,000 violations were written by WVMHS&T inspectors in 2009.
  • Over 15,000 certifications in 31 different classifications were issued by WVMHS&T safety instructors in 2009.
  • Mountaineer Guardian Safety Awards were presented to 30 West Virginia mining operations during 2009 for outstanding mine safety achievements.

The information obtained from these documents is accurate to the best of our knowledge and is not a substitute for current mining laws or regulations.  The State of West Virginia is not liable for any damages resulting from any information that unintentionally may be inaccurate or untimely.


  • West Virginia Geologic and Economic Survey, Web Page
  • West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training  Annual Reports.
  • Green Lands published by the West Virginia Mining and Reclamation Association
  • Coal Forum News published by The Coal Forum
  • West Virginia Coal Bell published by the West Virginia Mining and Reclamation Association
  • Sunday Gazette-Mail
  • National Mining Association
  • Impact The Importance of Coal to West Virginia published by the West Virginia Mining and Reclamation Association