Archive | Coal

West Virginia’s Mine Wars

This article is from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History website: http://www.wvculture.org/index.aspx

Compiled by the West Virginia State Archives

On March 12, 1883, the first carload of coal was transported from Pocahontas in Tazewell County, Virginia, on the Norfolk and Western Railway. This new railroad opened a gateway to the untapped coalfields of southwestern West Virginia, precipitating a dramatic population increase. Virtually overnight, new towns were created as the region was transformed from an agricultural to industrial economy.

With the lure of good wages and inexpensive housing, thousands of European immigrants rushed into southern West Virginia. In addition, a large number of African Americans migrated from the southern states. The McDowell County black population alone increased from 0.1 percent in 1880 to 30.7 percent in 1910.

Most of these new West Virginians soon became part of an economic system controlled by the coal industry. Miners worked in company mines with company tools and equipment, which they were required to lease. The rent for company housing and cost of items from the company store were deducted from their pay. The stores themselves charged over-inflated prices, since there was no alternative for purchasing goods. Continue Reading →

Harlan County, USA (Mining Documentary – 1976)

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Harlan County, USA is an Oscar-winning 1976 documentary film covering the “Brookside Strike”,[1] an effort of 180 coal miners and their wives against the Duke Power Company-owned Eastover Coal Company’s Brookside Mine and Prep Plant in Harlan County, Kentucky in 1973.[2] Directed by Barbara Kopple, who has long been an advocate of workers’ rights, Harlan County, U.S.A. is less ambivalent in its attitude toward unions than her later American Dream, the account of the Hormel Foods strike in Austin, Minnesota in 1985-86.

Synopsis

Kopple initially intended to make a film about Kenzie, Miners for Democracy and the attempt to unseat Tony Boyle. When miners at the Brookside Mine in Harlan County, Kentucky, struck in June 1972, Kopple went there to film the strike against Duke Power Company and UMWA’s response (or lack thereof). The strike proved a more interesting subject, so Kopple switched the focus of her film. Continue Reading →

Green Australia Still Experiencing Massive Coal Boom – by John Daly (OilPrice.com – February 21, 2012)

www.oilprice.com

Australia, despite being deeply committed to curbing greenhouse gas emissions GGEs, is nonetheless experiencing a fossil fuel surge.
 
The growth comes despite a carbon tax, due to be implemented later this year, which is deeply unpopular with the country’s mining industry.

According to the government agency Geoscience Australia, in fiscal year 2011 coal exploration spending in Australia surged by 62 percent, with investment in exploration for new coal deposits reaching $520 million, with spending on exploration surging faster than any other mineral commodity. Australia’s coal is abundant and considerably less expensive than other energy sources, with the country’s black coal reserves located primarily in New South Wales and Queensland, along the eastern seaboard where the majority of electricity is generated and consumed.

The country also has substantial reserves of lower-grade brown coal (lignite), located primarily in the Gippsland Basin of Victoria, with Australia possessing an estimated 25 percent of the world’s economic demonstrated resources (EDR). Continue Reading →

The oilsands are a symptom of the bigger problem of our dependence on fossil fuels – by Andrew Weaver (Toronto Star – February 22, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Andrew Weaver is a professor and Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria. He was a lead author in the UN second, third, fourth and ongoing fifth scientific assessments of climate change.

Back in September the Keystone XL pipeline controversy was at its peak. Proponents of the pipeline were entrenched in their views that the suggested route was the only viable one. Opponents brought forward myriad concerns. Nebraskan ranchers pointed out the absurdity of building a new pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer — the water source of much of the U.S. agricultural belt.

The National Congress of American Indians and Canadian First Nations brought forward compelling arguments that the pipeline jeopardized the potential health of their communities and resources. Others argued that it might be “game over” as far as global warming was concerned.

It was in the midst of this controversy that Neil Swart, a Ph.D. student in my lab, and I became engaged in a discussion as to the global warming potential of the oil in the Alberta tarsands. Our hunch was that it was big. We had heard the rhetoric and we wanted to undertake a quantitative assessment as to its veracity. Continue Reading →

October Sky (Mining Movie – 1999)

 

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

October Sky is a 1999 American biographical film directed by Joe Johnston, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Laura Dern. It is based on the true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner’s son who was inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1 to take up rocketry against his father’s wishes, and who eventually became a NASA engineer. Most of the film was shot in rural East Tennessee, including location filming in: Morgan County, Tennessee, Roane County, Tennessee, Oliver Springs, Harriman, and Kingston, Tennessee.

Title

October Sky is an anagram of Rocket Boys, the title of the book upon which the movie is based. It is also used in a period radio broadcast describing Sputnik as it crossed the “October sky.” Homer Hickam stated that “Universal Studios marketing people got involved and they just had to change the title because, according to their research, women over thirty would never see a movie titled Rocket Boys”,[1] so Universal Pictures changed the title to be more inviting to a wider audience. The book was later re-released with the name in order to capitalize on interest in the movie. Continue Reading →

Brassed Off (Mining Movie – 1996)

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Brassed Off is a 1996 British film written and directed by Mark Herman. The film, a British-American co-production made between Channel Four Films, Miramax Films and Prominent Films, is about the troubles faced by a colliery brass band, following the closure of their pit. The soundtrack for the film was provided by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and the plot is based on Grimethorpe’s own struggles against pit closures. It is generally very positively received for its role in promoting brass bands and their music. Parts of the film make reference to the huge increase in suicides that resulted from the end of the coal industry in Britain, and the struggle to retain hope in the circumstances.

Channel 4 and The Guardian both sponsored what was expected to be a low-profile film; it was not expected to gain the wide audience that it has. Having expected viewers to be mostly those with past links to coal mining, the film does not make explicit the political background to the plot. The American marketing for the film (and later VHS and DVD releases) portrays the film as a cheerful romantic comedy with nearly no mention at all about the musical or political elements. Continue Reading →

Obama budget again seeks hardrock mining royalty, new abandoned mine fees – by Dorothy Kosich (Mineweb.com – February 14, 2012)

www.mineweb.com

The President’s proposed fiscal 2013 federal budget calls for a 5% gross mining royalty on federal lands, and a hardrock abandoned mined land fee on all private and public lands.

RENO – In his proposed $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2013 released Monday, President Barak Obama has once again called for creation of a hard abandoned mined land fund, as well as a hardrock mining royalty of not less than five percent of gross proceeds.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who hails from the mining state of Colorado, estimated creation of the Hardrock Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund–applicable to private and federal, state, and tribal lands–would generate $500 million in savings over the next 10 years.

The Bureau of Land Management would distribute the funds through a competitive grant program to reclaim the highest priority hardrock abandoned sites on federal, state, tribal and private lands.

Salazar also intends to reform Coal Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation by terminating the unrestricted payments to states and tribes that have been certified for completing their coal reclamation work. Currently the money has been dispersed to states based on how much coal they produce. Continue Reading →

Coal Miner’s Daughter (Mining Movie – 1980)

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Coal Miner’s Daughter is a 1980 American biographical film which tells the story of country music icon Loretta Lynn. It stars Sissy Spacek in her Academy Award for Best Actress winning role, Tommy Lee Jones, Beverly D’Angelo and Levon Helm, and was directed by Michael Apted.

Background

The film was adapted from Lynn’s 1976 autobiography written with George Vecsey. Loretta Lynn was one of eight children born to Ted Webb (Levon Helm), a coal miner raising a family despite grinding poverty in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, pronounced by locals as “Butcher Holler”. She married Oliver Vanetta (Doolittle) “Mooney” Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones) when she was 13 years old.

A mother of four by the time she was 19 (and a grandmother by age 29), Lynn began singing the occasional song at local honky-tonks on weekends as well as making the occasional radio appearance. Continue Reading →

Pit Pony author Joyce Barkhouse dies – (CBC News – February 3, 2012)

 

This article is from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/

Joyce Barkhouse, the Nova Scotia-based children’s author who wrote Pit Pony, has died. She was 98. Nate Crawford, executive director of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, said Barkhouse died on Thursday in Bridgewater, N.S., following a heart attack.

Pit Pony, the story of a boy and his horse working in the coal mines of Cape Breton, was her most popular book, drawing letters from people living in mining communities and from horse lovers across Canada. It was published in 1990.

The book was a notable one named by the Canadian Library Association, received the first Ann Connor Brimer Award in 1991 for “outstanding contribution to children’s literature in Atlantic Canada” and had international distribution. Continue Reading →

Cape Breton’s undersea coal field a vein to energy wealth – by Neil Reynolds (Globe and Mail – January 18, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

OTTAWA— French explorer Nicholas Deny discovered abundant coal (“a mountain of very good coal four leagues up the river”) on Cape Breton Island in 1672. Within a few years, miners were prying coal from rock outcroppings along the coast with crowbars. Although Cape Breton’s fabled coal mines closed a decade ago, ostensibly forever, the chances are good that the island will soon be back in the coal business – mining a huge and distinctly Canadian energy source: the undersea Sydney coal field.

Cape Breton University (CBU) president H. John Harker, an energy authority, describes this energy resource as “a vast deposit [150 billion tonnes] of quality coal under the waters of the North Atlantic extending from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland and Labrador.” Swing westward into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and undersea coal deposits more than double, to 350 billion tonnes.

Cape Breton’s undersea coal field is so big that Mr. Harker thinks Canada, Britain and the United States should develop it strategically, recalling the Second World War alliance (Roosevelt, Churchill and Mackenzie King) that won the Battle of the Atlantic. Continue Reading →

Ottawa backtracks on coal emissions – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – January 6, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

The federal government is offering the provinces a way to avoid tough new regulations that would eventually force power companies to shut down the country’s fleet of coal-fired power plants.

Environment Minister Peter Kent and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have privately indicated they are willing to provide flexibility in how new power-plant emissions rules are implemented, provincial and industry sources said Thursday. Mr. Kent is expected to release the final version of the long-promised regulations in the coming months.

The change in stance by the federal government provides relief for some of the country’s biggest utilities. Alberta-based power generators such as TransAlta Corp.,  Capital Power Corp. and Atco Ltd.  – as well as Nova Scotia’s Emera Inc.  – have warned that a rigid approach to Ottawa’s plant-by-plant rules would increase costs, drive up electricity prices for consumers, and strand valuable assets by imposing arbitrary deadlines for power plant closings. Continue Reading →

A cautious optimism for coal – by David Ebner and Brenda Bouw (Globe and Mail – January 4, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

RIDLEY ISLAND, B.C. AND VANCOUVER – The sky is a hard grey and the small mountains of coal piled a dozen metres high are thick black. From this outpost in northwestern British Columbia, about 700 kilometres from Vancouver, coal trundles on conveyors from train cars to the piles, and then onward to docked ships destined for steel mills in China, Japan, and South Korea.

New equipment – huge rings of steel – lays nearby. The gear will increase the capacity of Ridley Terminals Inc. to unload coal from trains, one step in a four-year, multimillion-dollar effort to double exports to 24-million tonnes a year, and handle new and increased production from coal mines in British Columbia, Alberta and the United States.

It is the second time Canada has bet big on higher coal exports to steel makers in Asia. Last time, the bet on Japan failed badly when the forecasted prolonged boom didn’t last. Today, the same belief, and certainty, has been attached to China, the world’s largest steel-producing nation. Continue Reading →

The Dark Lord of Coal Country – by Jeff Goodell (Rolling Stone Magazine – November 29, 2010)

http://www.rollingstone.com/

One balmy night this fall, a black BMW 750LI — a German luxury sedan that costs more than a typical coal miner makes in a year — pulls into the parking lot of the shaggy country club in Bluefield, West Virginia. Bluefield is a fading coal town in a state that is full of fading coal towns. Seventy-five years ago, when the Pocahontas coal seam was one of the richest veins in America, and tooling up for the 20th century required massive tonnage of coal, there was money here, and hope. But now the coal is mined out, the buildings downtown are vacant, and shiny new Beemers are about as common as flying saucers.

The driver — a young, tan, L.A.-surfer-boy type — jumps out and opens the rear door. A tall man, 60, with a thin mustache and a double chin emerges: Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy, the largest and most powerful coal company in central Appalachia. He grabs his dark-blue suit jacket, which is folded on the tan leather seat beside him, and slips it on. He wears a red-and-yellow silk tie and tasseled leather loafers. His hands are chubby and white — no calluses, not a speck of coal dust. Accountant’s hands. His eyes are black and inexpressive.

Unless you live in West Virginia, you’ve probably never heard of Don Blankenship. You might not know that he grew up in the coal fields of West Virginia, received an accounting degree from a local college, and, through a combination of luck, hard work and coldblooded ruthlessness, transformed himself into the embodiment of everything that’s wrong with the business and politics of energy in America today Continue Reading →

Can Coal-to-Hydrocarbons Replace Oil? – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

Like our readers, we at Canadain Mining Journal have watched the price of crude oil skyrocket and heard the voices of the “greens” calling for a more environmentally friendly energy source.

We don’t usually comment on the oil industry except the massive mining operations of the Alberta oil sands. The oil sands have been roundly criticized as one of the least environmentally friendly fuel sources. Their mining and processing could be made cleaner with a liberal injection of money, but the oil sands still produce conventional hydrocarbons in the end.

Ethanol has been suggested as a replacement for hydrocarbons. But the use of corn, rice and wheat in the manufacture of ethanol has played a major part in the rise of food staple prices, placing an unbearable burden on the world’s most disadvantaged people.

Coal, of course, is the second most popular energy source, behind hydrocarbons. It has a reputation of being dangerous to mine and dirty to burn. Continue Reading →