Coal Episode 9 Recap: When One Miner Just Won't Do

June 8, 2011
After adding a new generator and a fresh continuous miner, Cobalt Coal has been hoping not only to get into the black and make the company profitable, but also hoping to keep things that way. Last week though, the miners hit water and CEO Mike Crowder learned that if he wanted to keep his mine dry he'd have to turn his works to the right -- mining land he doesn't currently control. This week, he gets to work on making that right turn a reality. The Coal season finale airs THIS Sunday at 8PM/7c.

The first thing Crowder had to do was find out what it would take to get control of the land to the right of the mine. In coal mining, landowners typically receive 5% of profits when they allow their land to be leased. However, if a mine isn't profitable, then the deal just isn't worth it. One way to make this deal a financial win for the lesser is for the Westchester-based mine is to bring on a new miner operator.

The day shift has continued to pull their weight, but the night shift under the hands of recently promoted Randy Remines has repeatedly fallen short. From a nearby mine, Crowder and President Tom Roberts have hired on operator Joe Chafins and his son Biggins. Remines most assuredly didn't take kindly to the move, but he was not left with much of a choice in the matter.

Meanwhile, roof bolter Jeremy Auville has been forming his own bad habits and repeatedly showing up late to the mine. With so much continually on the line, Tom Roberts was not ready to stand for it. He confronted Auville, and instituted a new policy: show up late, get docked 30 minutes worth of pay. When you're a miner, every dollar counts, so this was a policy not to be taken lightly.

The new man behind the miner, Joe Chafins, went straight to work during the shift and his presence was felt immediately. The miners around him instantly marveled at his skill. Meanwhile, Chafins couldn't help but give a few accolades to his son Biggins, who though still new to mining has been quickly coming into his own much in the way that Andrew Christian, Jr. has been doing under his own father's guidance.

In an effort to increase production that much further, Cobalt later brings in yet another new piece of equipment. Crowder would later state, "You need to spend money to make money." By bringing in a uni-hauler the miners will be able to compliment the coal buggy, allowing the miners to continually mine coal without needing to take a break. Still needing someone to run the new tool, the shift supervisors decided to throw young Andrew Christian behind the wheel. He was quick to showcase his displeasure at the move in responsibility, something his father was just as quick to admonish him for, reminding him to respect his supervisors and their decisions.

The pace quickening thanks to the new crew and the uni-hauler, what's gotten left behind is a lot of additional work for the roof bolters. You cut through the mine quickly and you'll have to bolt the rooftops that much faster. However, lead bolter Jeremy Auville grabbed another problem notch on his belt after not keeping up with the pace and leaving behind some unbolted rooftops. If a mine roof hasn't been bolted it simply cannot be mined. Translation: lost production.

Making matters even worse for Auville, the buggy went down and supervisor Sean Muncey requested that Auville shovel coal by hand. When Auville flat out refused, he once again drew a confrontation with Roberts. While CEO Crowder saw the confrontation as a teaching moment, and remained convinced Auville would turn around, Roberts wasn't as optimistic.

The next day, Crowder was proven wrong as Auville showed up late once again leaving Muncey the job of telling him that Roberts had docked him half an hour's pay. Understandably, Jeremy reacted poorly, releasing a number of expletives and all but stating that if Roberts wanted to fire him he was ready. A final confrontation however would be left for another day.

The more important matter on the plate for Roberts, Crowder, and the rest of the crew was that the numbers were continuing to climb. Whether it was Joe Chafins behind the miner or Andy Christian and his son, the cuts were adding up. With seven required cuts being met every shift, the turn to the right might not be so far off for Cobalt after all.

Be sure to tune in this Sunday at 8PM/7c for the season finale of Coal!