December 6, 2013
In 2009, Congress proclaimed Dec. 6 as National Miners Day to celebrate the historic contributions America’s miners have made to our country. It is no exaggeration to say that the coal, iron ore, copper and scores of other minerals and metals mined from Appalachia to the coastal West have provided the foundation for the economic colossus that America has become. Today, America’s miners work to sustain our position as the world’s premier economy.
The metals we use in our everyday life – in cell phones and hybrid cars to national defense and medical technologies – come to us from the more than 380,000 Americans who provide consumers and manufacturers with gold, copper, nickel, chromium and scores of other metals vital to a modern economy. As many as 900,000 additional Americans mine gravel, phosphate and other essential resources used in highway and home construction, agriculture and manufacturing.
Coal is the largest source of energy for electricity generation, thanks to the work of more than 800,000 men and women employed in coal mining and allied industries who use highly automated machines to produce and transport 1 billion tons of coal each year for our power plants and steelmakers both here and abroad.
Mining is as fundamental today as it was at the dawn of our industrial revolution, even as it has become more automated and safe. New digital technologies and safety procedures have combined to dramatically reduce accidents and fatalities in America’s mines. Our steady progress points to the day not far off when it will be possible to eliminate fatalities altogether, a goal that today is an industry-wide priority. What hasn’t changed is the indispensable contribution that miners make to America and why today miners remain a celebrated part of America’s 21st century workforce.