Coal Episode 4 Recap: The Coal Gets Moving

April 21, 2011
Last week’s episode of Coal saw the departure of roof bolter, Hank Toler, and as well as the resurgence of Cobalt’s night shift thanks to continuous miner operator, Randy Remines. This week presented a whole new set of problems for the Westchester mine as two new members were brought onto the team, a new power generator was put into place, a belt was moved and CEO Mike Crowder ended up with more coal than he could truck out. With all new episodes of Coal airing Wednesday at 10PM/9c on Spike, let’s see how things went down on this week’s episode, “Buried In Coal.”

The arrival of a massive 2,000 kilowatt generator at the Westchester mine was the good news to start the week. The bad news was that Cobalt’s so broke that they couldn’t even pay to have it hooked up. Unless Crowder moved 60 truckloads of coal in the next 48 hours, Cobalt would need to close up shop thanks to mounting debt. The question was: how would they do it?

Having dug 700 feet into the mine, it’s become that much harder for the shuttle cars to move the coal onto the trucks. To shorten the distance, the crew needed to perform a belt move, a complicated procedure that speeds up the coal mining process, but in the short term meant shutting the day shift down early.

Very quickly the belt move proved to be a disaster with electrician, Vince Epperson at the helm. Not having the right tools to attach the new belt properly, hours were lost, costing Crowder and his company $3,500 an hour in lost production. It wasn’t until after the belt was forced into operation and long after the night shift went home, that Supervisor JC Woolridge noticed that night shift had attached the belt’s clips backwards, contributing to a seven hour delay.

Cobalt was stuck with less than 30 hours to pull in 40 trucks; more coal than they had ever cut or moved. Making matters worse, the trucks would have to cross the 100 year old Sandy Truss Bridge whose weight restrictions limited the hauls to half-loads, doubling the amount of work to be done and money to be spent. Crowder was forced into hiring a local truck company run by a man simply known as “Beard.” It was with his help that Cobalt could actually make things work.

And they did. Thanks to miner man, Andy Christian, Sr. and the new roof bolters, Raymond Crigger and Jeremy Marushia, the coal was cutting at a record pace. The only thing standing in the way of success was the lack of trucks. Beard would need to come through for Cobalt, but it was getting late. Too late. Finally, in the eleventh hour, Beard managed to pull in some favors of his own and get the right amount of trucks up to the mine and get that coal on out of there and on its way.

With a record haul in the books, Mike Crowder headed home for the weekend to see his family with a smile on his face.

Tune in next Wednesday at 10PM/9c for an all-new episode of Coal, and keep an eye out for exclusive content and updates on, Facebook and on Twitter.