Jack Caldwell - Mining Engineer - Robertson GeoConsultants

Here from the CostMine report 2011 Survey Results, U.S. Coal Mine Salaries, Wages and Benefits are some wages earned by U.S. coal miners.

First wages at surface coal mines. In US$ per hour, here are minimum, average, and maximum wages for the 28 reporting mines:

  • Electrician = 24.25/28.21/36.47
  • Mechanic = 17.00/26.94/36.47
  • Welder = 24.25/26.37/34.82
  • Shove/Dragline Operator = 22.60/28.79/36.66
  • Drill Operator = 14.40/25.27/35.16
  • Production Truck Driver = 12.35/24.33/34.53
  • Laborer = 10.71/22.43/33.73

Thus we see there is a significant range of wages; the laborer illustrating with a low of $10.71 an hour, an average of $22.43 an hour, to the maximum of $33.73 an hour. That is a big difference and a big range. Some coal mines obviously pay more than others.

A similar tend prevails at underground coal mines. Consider the underground coal mine electrician with a minimum of 24.01, an average of 25.86, and a maximum of 34.00. A little less than on surface mines but nothing significant. Interestingly there is a different pattern for the underground coal mine laborer. They have a minimum of 22.77, an average of 23.51, and a maximum of 27.00—a higher minimum, but a considerably lower maximum.

Part of the reason for the differences is the size of the mine: small surface coal mines pay less than large surface coal mines. Surprisingly, small underground coal mines pay more than large underground coal mines.

Another reason is variation in wages in different regions of the country. Consider these averages for an Oiler:

  • Eastern = 21.59
  • Central = 22.73
  • Southwestern = 27.34
  • Northwestern = 29.98

I suspect, however, looking at all these figures, that the biggest factor is the large range of wages is the result of difference between individual mines. Count yourself lucky if you are working on one of the high-paying ones.