News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 18, 2013

DNR talks coal mining on Facebook

Dustyn Fatheree
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Facebook users were digging for information as the Indiana Department of Natural Resources staged a “talk” with a coal mining expert event Wednesday.

Jack McGriffin, project coordinator for the DNR Division of Reclamation, logged on at 2 p.m.

“Indiana is historically a top 10 coal-producing state in the nation,” McGriffin stated on Facebook during the event. “We produce 32 through 36 million tons per year.”

He went on to state that annually 8,000 to 10,000 acres of ground is disturbed in the process of mining coal. The same amount of acreage is also restored due to mining laws. Mining is seen as a temporary disruption with a long-term goal of protected land.

According to the National Mining Association’s 2011 statistics on coal production, Indiana ranked eighth nationally producing 37,426 tons — 3.4 percent of the total in the United States. Historically, Indiana’s high was 37,555 tons in 1984.

Indiana was preceded by Illinois in seventh place and Wyoming in first producing 40 percent of coal produced in the U.S.

As a nation, the U.S. produced a little more than 1 million tons of coal in 2011.

Twenty to 25 counties historically have been encompassed by the coal-producing southwest fifth of the state, McGriffin added. Twelve to 15 of those counties are still actively producing coal. The location of coal mines in Indiana start in Parke County and stretch down to Spencer engulfing the majority of counties in between — including Vigo County.

Vigo County has four mining facilities throughout the county and along its border. Half of those are surface mines still producing coal while the other two have been restored. There are also two processing areas.

“Processing plants are preparing the raw coal for shipment to specific customers,” McGriffin stated. “The coal is broken, washed and sized according to the needs of the customer.”

Being part of the Illinois Coal Basin, Indiana is primarily involved with surface mining; whereas, Illinois is more involved with underground mining. The Illinois Coal Basin forms in southwestern Indiana and extends South and West.

The coal mining “talk” was not DNR’s first venture on to Facebook. Dawn Krause, program coordinator for DNR said the group started staging informational events via Facebook last January.

“Usually we have information that pertains to the season,” she said. “This helps give the division a chance to talk to the public and answer questions they may have.”

DNR has two informational events scheduled for August with the themes being “Aquatic Invasives” and “Indiana Archaeology Month.” “Hoosier Outdoors Experience” is scheduled for September.

For more information visit DNR’s website at

Reporter Dustyn Fatheree can be reached at 812-231-4255 and dustyn.fatheree@