The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance says that the state’s mining industry constitutes a major source of employment and tax revenue.
Last year, the industry created 49,100 direct and indirect jobs with a total payroll of more than $2.2 billion. Taxes on those wages netted more than $700 million to the coffers of federal, state and local governments, the alliance said.
In the Johnstown region, coal has been a major factor in the economy for many decades, and that trend is expected to continue.
Rosebud Mining Co., headquartered in Kittanning, Armstrong County, will open several mines in Pennsylvania to replace several in the state that are being closed, said Jim Barker, executive vice president of the company.
The goal is to hold steady, he said, noting that the markets are flat.
The company markets metallurgical coal, used to make steel, and steam coal, used to generate electricity.
Rosebud, founded in 1979, has grown to become the third-largest coal producer in Pennsylvania and the 16th largest in the U.S.
The company, which operates mines in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, had nearly 1,300 employees at last count.
Barker said that the Marcellus Shale industry is great for our country and economy and is certainly competitive with coal.
“So long as government regulations against coal do not disadvantage the mineral, we can compete. We need all our energy sources to free ourselves from foreign influence,” Barker said.
Coal mining is an important part of the area’s economy.
“Underground coal mining jobs are family-sustaining and important to the region,” he said.
“It is estimated that the direct-to-indirect ratio of jobs is somewhere between 4 to 1 and 6 to 1, meaning 4 to 6 indirect jobs to each underground coal miner,” Barker said. “That is a lot of jobs.”
Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/FrankNews10.