Mining is Big Business

Alabama’s mining culture is an integral part of our economy. In December of 2011, Walter Energy of Jim Walter Resources announced development of a new underground coal mine in northern Tuscaloosa County. This new project could lead to the creation of 500 new jobs, plus more jobs for the construction industry to build the deep mine.

The construction of a new mine creates a boon statewide for other industries as well. The mine will provide high paying jobs to miners, but it will also build a coal terminal at the Port of Mobile and a barge load-out facility in Walker County and a rail spur in Fayette County.

There are some who oppose such undertakings though. Celeste Agan, an activist and social worker from Birmingham, fears for the health risks of the miners as well as the people and children who live in the region.

Mining is not without risk. From the beginning of the age of mining, there have been dangerous and deadly accidents from such activity. The number of deaths has certainly declined over the century, thanks to regulations and increased safety procedures. But coal mining still remains a highly dangerous occupation.

Some believe the state should be focusing on more sustainable ways of adding jobs to the economy and increasing the state’s GDP. But no one can ignore the fact that Alabama is a rich resource for minerals of all sorts. A state as richly laced with coal, clay, sand, gold, gravel, shale, and many other minerals is not likely to stop mining anytime soon.  There are more than 241 mining operations in the state, employing more than 40,000 workers.

Mining is big business.