In the mid-1990s, coal was not king, but today, it may be taking back its throne. Back then, natural gas was at center stage as the preferred energy source of environmentally conscious Americans everywhere.
But in 1998, a slight, yet significant, change occurred. According to a U.S. Department of Energy study, "The trend towards reduced levels of consumer coal stocks was reversed." This change coupled with continuing low prices for coal brought it back to the forefront, revitalizing the coal industry to this day.
For example, more than half of America's electricity is now generated from coal. Coal mines that had been shut down in the 1990s are reopening, and former workers are going back to the mines and getting back to work.
America has a lot of coal to be mined. With 274 billion tons of recoverable reserves, coal is 39 times more abundant than natural gas and 54 times more abundant than oil.
Coal is also becoming safer for the environment. Because of efforts by the coal-based electricity industry, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions have dropped.
The most recent study on these emissions shows that between 1980 and 2001, the sulfur dioxide emission rate dropped 38 percent, and the nitrogen oxide emission rate dropped 32 percent.
The largest source of electricity in the United States, electricity from coal is crucial to America's energy present and future. Quest Minerals and Mining Corp. (OTC BB: QMMG.OB), is playing a major role in the future of the coal industry. Quest acquires and reopens properties in the southeastern United States that produce coal in compliance with Clean Air Act requirements.
Quest recently announced that it has signed and closed its acquisition of Gwenco Inc., through which it gains more than 700 acres of coal leases with almost 13 million tons of coal in place in six seams. Quest plans to reopen two of Gwenco's former drift mines and begin commercial coal production. Coal produced at these mines will be sold to public utility companies in Kentucky and Ohio.