Virginia coal is rebounding, but is donald trump to thank economics roanoke.com gasbuddy app

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“We’re still in relatively early days of this administration,” she said. “How long is it until people realize they’re not able to fulfill these promises and they really start holding the administration accountable for the misleading promises?”

The metallurgical coal market is dependent on the foreign appetite for steel. China is hungry, but it’s cheaper and easier for that country to boost domestic production or import coal from Australia than it is to rely on U.S. coal, she said. Phil Smith

“I think it’s time to recognize the grim prognosis in the long run for the industry, she said. “It doesn’t get easier the longer you wait. You’re going to lose population. You’re going to get into a downward spiral that’s really hard to get out of.”

Trump also signed a bill repealing former President Barack Obama’s last-ditch effort to protect streams from the effects of coal mining. The Stream Protection Rule, issued in the last days of Obama’s presidency, would have required coal companies to restore coal mine areas and nearby streams to their previous condition, before excavating.

The United Mine Workers of America supported Trump on both actions. But Phil Smith, a spokesman for the group, said that while rolling back those regulations creates a brighter future for the industry, it doesn’t reverse any of the losses experienced in recent years.

While the improving market for coal is encouraging, indicators suggest the boom only will last for about a year due to stabilization of the international market, Smith said. Coal is not a safe bet in the long term because of the volatility in the international market, he said.

Company officials predict the metallurgical mine will start with about 50 workers and could work its way up to about 200 within two years. Company President and CEO Mike Bauersachs expects the mine will employ Virginia and West Virginia residents.

Ramaco is one of a few coal mining companies that have gone or will go public this year, banking on the strength of metallurgical coal in the international market. When shares went on sale in February, the company offered 6 million at $13.50 apiece.

That alone won’t turn the industry around from its more marginalized position, he said. But Bauersachs is hopeful for an overall friendlier attitude toward coal once Trump finishes nominating various federal department heads for agencies such as the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Business was stagnant at first as McLoughlin struggled to make a name for himself. But the bigger problem was the lack of coal mining jobs, he said. With few open jobs, McLoughlin had few customers. He needed all of the clients he could find because his pension didn’t cover all his bills.

The winds have shifted. So far this year, McLoughlin has trained about 200 new miners in Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia. For the most part, he trains workers who have jobs lined up but need new or updated certifications. The training can last anywhere from one day to two weeks.

McLoughlin chalks up the growth in the coal industry to bad weather in Australia and Trump’s rollback of some Obama-era environmental regulations. Thanks partly to Trump, the industry is getting its strength back. Coal is no longer defenseless, he said.