For the full year, Illinois mine Mach achieved average tons per total man-hours of 14.03, well above the second place winner, Arch Coal’s Sufco mine, with 9.18t, and third place mine, Oxbow Mining’s Elk Creek operation at 7.67t.
Arch Coal’s operations actually could be found three times within the top 10 rankings for 2008 – aside from Sufco. Dugout Canyon took fourth position (7.59t per total man-hours) and West Elk was ninth with an average 7.06t.
The fifth through tenth place US mines were more of a mixed bag, but all were consistent performers. Wyoming’s Bridger underground mine, part of the sizeable Bridger complex owned by Pacific Minerals, was fifth with an average 7.45t, while in sixth place was fellow western mine Twentymile, part of Peabody’s mine portfolio, with 7.32t.
Rounding out the top 10 productivity finishers were three operations from rich coalfields. Seventh was one of the nation’s largest mines, Consol’s Enlow Fork (7.24t), in northern Appalachia, and eighth place went to BHP Billiton’s San Juan Coal in New Mexico (7.14t).
Finally, in tenth position, following West Elk, was the Century operation, owned by Murray Energy subsidiary American Energy. Century reported average tons per total man hours of 6.62.
Consol took the top three places in terms of production for the full year of 2008. Coming in behind top producer Bailey mine’s total of 9.99 million tons last year was McElroy, which had 9.63Mt, and Enlow Fork, with 8.28Mt
Fourth place was held by a western coalfields operation, Twentymile in Colorado (8Mt). In fifth place, was Foundation Coal’s Cumberland mine in Pennsylvania with 7.32Mt.
With 7.04Mt in production was San Juan, which earned sixth place. Arch Coal’s Sufco had 6.94Mt, while Murray Energy’s Century and Arch’s West Elk mines finished with 6.84Mt and 6.50Mt respectively.
Tenth spot was earned by Foundation Coal’s Emerald mine, which reported 6.3Mt.
Of the 41 longwall operations ranked in the full-year report, a few saw issues or were closed altogether as victims of current economical times.
Consol’s Robinson Run mine, which was 23rd in productivity, lost one worker in a June accident while its Buchanan operation stopped cutting to rectify roof control problems.
Arch’s Dugout Canyon, a top performer in productivity as well as production, opted in a $US100 million decision to skip an area of its coal seam to avoid the dangers of coal outbursts, or bounces.
However, the state’s Geological Survey office told media earlier in the year that Dugout’s future remains bright. In fact, plans are still in place to continue running the longwall until 2015 and then conduct a couple of years of retreat mining.
Murray Energy’s Aberdeen operation in Utah (37th) was idled indefinitely in light of safety issues. Cliff’s Gary No. 50 (Pinnacle) mine and Consol’s Mine No. 84 are two that saw the ax and let its staff go as coking coal demand fell sharply.
One mine that has consistently reported a high number of regular workers throughout the year was Consol’s McElroy in Marshall County, West Virginia, employing a staggering 837 miners from around the region.