Wy. coal production slides during spring

CASPER, Wyo. — Coal production in Wyoming dropped during the spring after a surge of production at the state’s mines through fall and winter, federal coal mine regulators said.

Wyoming produced 72 million tons of coal between April and June. From January to March, mines produced about 80 million tons, the Mine Safety and Health Administration said.

The drop in production is not cause for alarm, said Travis Deti, executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association.

“It’s not unusual for a second quarter to be a little bit lower if you look back historically,” he said. “We are still well up from where we were last year.”

The 2016 second quarter was the lowest period of production in decades and began with mass layoffs at the largest mines in the state, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

This year, miners dug about 20 percent more coal from beneath the Wyoming soil between April and June than they did during the same months in 2016.

Wyoming’s coal sector lost about 1,000 workers from 2014 to 2016, and has brought about 300 back this year. Though the modest comeback is welcome news for the local industry, it’s unlikely it suggests a continuing upward swing in jobs, said Deti. “It is what it is,” he said. “In this environment we aren’t going to see production go up and up and up. So, a little decline in second quarter is not bad.”