CostMine (a division of InfoMine) has recently released their survey results of U.S. Coal Mine Salaries, Wages & Benefits for 2010. Here are some of the numbers for coal mine wages.In future postings, we will look at salaries and executive compensation.

Keep in mind that coal mine wages vary by region of the country, by size of mine, whether the mine is open pit or underground, and whether the mine is unionized or not. That said, here are some global averages for various job titles at surface coal mines in the U.S.–numbers in U.S. $ per hour:

  • Electrician = 27.28
  • Mechanic = 26.51
  • Helper = 23.18
  • Drill Operator = 23.97
  • Laborer = 21.11

By comparison with the $21.11 that a laborer at a surface mine earns, the Underground Laborer earns an average of $23.13 per hour. You may say that is because it is nicer to labor in the open than underground. But the underground electrician earns less than the surface mine electrician: $26.10 versus $27.38. No explanation in the details.

The ranges of wages nation-wide are big. The surface mine electrician’s wages vary from $23.75 to $35.58 an hour. For a laborer at a surface mine, the range is $10.50 to $27.51. A factor of nearly three! There is a similar range for surface mine Production Truck Drivers: $12.00 to $33.69. Part of this range is due to the difference between wages on small mines (<100 people) as compared to large mines (>100 people.) The average wage of a Production Truck Driver on a small mine is $18.93 as compared to the average on a large mine of $24.69. Also there is the effect of location; as you go west and north, wages increase. For example, the Production Truck Driver wages for different regions ofthe country are:

  • Eastern =19.15
  • Central = 21.53
  • Southwestern =25.17
  • Northwestern = 26.39

There is a similar trend for the underground mine electrician. Here are the numbers:

  • Eastern =24.57
  • Central = 24.95
  • Southwestern =29.88
  • Northwestern = 31.29

Average costs of benefits as a percentage of wages are as follows:

  • All U.S. = 43.8
  • All U.S. – Union =47.1
  • All U.S. – Non-Union =38.5

For what it is worth, the percentages are not significantly different for salaried staff.

There is considerably more data in the full report. I recommend that you get your mine or union to get a copy so that you may delve into the details and make a valid comparison between what you are getting and what others in the same location, position, etc are getting.