Newly released statistics suggest that despite a 6% production drop last year, West Virginia's coal industry is still very productive.
Coal production in the state dropped by 11.6 million tons last year to 169.2 million tons, after hitting an all-time high of 181.9 million tons in 1997.
Today, just more than two-thirds of all coal in the Mountain State still comes from underground mines, while 27 of the state's 55 counties produced coal.
Boone County continued to be the state's top producer, with more than 30 million tons. Mingo County remained in second place, with 20.7 million tons, a drop of 2 million tons from 1998. Together, Boone and Mingo counties produced 30% of the state's coal. In both counties, 7 of every 10 tons came from deep mines.
CONSOL still had the state's largest mines. Its McElroy Coal Co in Marshall County was the top producer, mining just over 7 million tons in 1999. The firm had another three of the biggest deep mines - Robinson Run in Harrison County, Blacksville No 2 in Monongalia County and Shoemaker in Marshall County.
The other leading underground mines were Mountaineer Mine operated by Arch Coal in Mingo County, Montcoal owned by AT Massey Coal in Raleigh County and Federal No 2 owned by Peabody in Monongalia County.