- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming’s coal production went way up in the third quarter of 2016 but officials say the industry still has a ways to go before it meets projections for the year.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports (https://bit.ly/2fhA27j) that coal production soared 42 percent in the third quarter over the second, good news after the industry suffered record price lows, debt and layoffs earlier this year.

The state’s 16 active mines provided almost 85 million tons of coal this last quarter, up from 60 million tons in the second quarter and 65 million tons in the first.

“It looks like things for the coal companies are returning to a more normal pattern, but the next couple quarters will be critical for the state to see coal production levels,” said Lawrence Wolfe, a lawyer with decades of experience in the state’s coal industry. “No one predicted the huge fall off in the first two quarters, which extracted roughly $700 million of economic activity from the state.”

Coal producers still have to dig an additional 90 million tons of coal from Oct. 1 to the end of the year to meet projections from the state’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, which releases a revenue report every October and January predicting the income and production of the state’s industries.

Rob Godby, director of the Energy Economics and Policies Center at the University of Wyoming, said the CREG report’s projections of 300 million tons for 2016 may be achievable, especially as winter demand will drive up natural gas prices and boost coal’s competitiveness.

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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