Recapping 10 of Coal's Most Important Things You Might Have Missed in Episode 2

April 7, 2011
This week brought us a brand new episode of the new hit Spike original series, Coal. The miners battled multiple power outages and the Cobalt crew continues to have troubles with their night shift. For those of you who caught it, and even for those of you who have yet to check it out, here's a quick look at some of what you may have missed. Coal airs Wednesdays at 10PM/9c.

10: Red Hat -Jeremy Marushia comes onto the night shift in this episode, and he's only a "red hat." This signifies that he is only an apprentice miner and has to work three months before he can earn his "black hat." Until then, he'll be doing all the grunt work, moving cable and other such chores.

9. N.I.O.S.H. -Early in the episode when the conveyor belt causes smoke to fill the mine, a fire in nearby Logan County from 2006 is referenced. Footage of the fire is provided by N.I.O.S.H. This organization is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The group generates knowledge about better safety practices and puts them into practice for the betterment of workers.

8. Average Age Of A Coal Miner -Randy Remines, the continuous mine operator, notes that he's getting old and that Cobalt may be needing to bring in some young guns to replace him. This isn't necessarily the case. The average age of a coal miner in West Virginia is 55 years old. Andy Christian, Sr. (a.k.a. Miner Man) is 50 years old himself.

7. Methane Gas - When the power in the mine cuts out and the fan stops working, the miners fear that methane gas will quickly become their enemy. This dangerous gas is composed of carbon and hydrogen and is lighter than air, colorless, odorless and highly flammable. It is often found in coal mines and also as a a product of decomposition of matter in swamps.

6. Continuous Miner - Producing more than five tons of coal in a minute, the continuous miner accounts for about 45% of underground coal production. The machine itself has a large rotating steel drum equipped with tungsten carbide teeth that scrapes coal from the wall seams. It operates using a "room and pillar" system where the mine is divided into a series of 20- to 30-foot "rooms" cut into the coal bed.

5. Applachian Power - Cobalt Coal Corp. president, Tom Roberts, references how the Westchester mine gets its power from the residential power plant and not directly from its power generator. The plant he is referring to belongs to Appalachian Power. It is a division of American Electric Power, and is based in Charleston, West Virginia. It serves about one million customers.

4. Saber Supply - Superintendent, J.C. Woolridge, wears a sticker that reads "Saber Supply" on his hard hat. Saber is a West Virginia mining supply company located in the town of Beckley, but is also located in Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

3. Shuttle Car - The low-riding shuttle cars are used in room-and-pillar coal mining systems. As a mainstay of the industry, these haul vehicles are used to remove the cut material so as to enhance the performance of the continuous miner and maximize the productivity of the overall section. Shuttle cars can also be operated by remote control, allowing for safer cuts as an unmanned vehicle can travel under an unsupported roof.

2. Cost of Coal - Fuels are frequently measured based on their heat content, expressed in British thermal units (Btu's). According to Energy Information Administration (EIA) coal prices averaged over the period 1999 to 2008 have been one-third the cost of natural gas. Natural gas prices have averaged $5.75/per million Btu's over the 10-year period, whereas the price of coal has averaged $1.46/per million Btu's over the same period. It's cheap and highly effective, providing the electricity for 50% of the country.

1. Welch, West Virginia - We get inside look at the home life of Jerry Edwards, Sr. and his family and they all live in the town of Welch, West Virginia. Incorporated in 1893, this small town resides within McDowell County. It only has 2,683 citizens. However, many of them have gone on to great prominence. Actor/comedian, Steve Harvey, was born here and Minnie Buckingham Parker, the first black female legislator in United States history, also hails from the town.

Remember, there's always more to learn about Coal. Be sure to tune in next Wednesday at 10PM/9c for an all-new episode. As always, keep an eye out for exclusive content and updates on, and don't forget to follow Coal on Facebook and Twitter.