The goal of coal mining is to obtain coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and, since the 1880s, has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United Kingdom and South Africa, a coal mine and its structures are a colliery. In Australia, "colliery" generally refers to an underground coal mine. In the United States "colliery" has historically been used to describe a coal mine operation, but the word today is not commonly used.
Coal mining has had many developments over the recent years, from the early days of men tunneling, digging and manually extracting the coal on carts, to large open cut and long wall mines. Mining at this scale requires the use of draglines, trucks, conveyors, jacks and shearers
The American share of world coal production remained steady at about 20 percent from 1980 to 2005, at about 1 billion short tons per year. The United States was ranked as the 2nd coal producing country in the world in 2010, and possesses the largest coal reserves in the world. In 2008 then-President George W. Bush stated that coal was the most reliable source of electricity. However, in 2011 President Barack Obama said that the US should rely more on "clean" sources of energy that emit lower or no carbon dioxide pollution. As of 2013, while domestic coal consumption for electric power was being displaced by natural gas, exports were increasing. US coal production increasingly comes from strip mines in the western United States, such as from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana.
Coal has come under continued price pressure from natural gas and renewable energy sources, which has resulted in a rapid decline of coal in the U.S. and several notable bankruptcies including Peabody Energy. On April 13, 2016 it reported, its revenue tumbled 17 percent as coal price fell and lost 2 billion dollars on the previous year. It then filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 13, 2016. The Harvard Business Review discussed retraining coal workers for solar photovoltaic employment because of the rapid rise in U.S. solar jobs. A recent study indicated that this was technically possible and would account for only 5% of the industrial revenue from a single year to provide coal workers with job security in the energy industry as whole.