Coal Episode 7 Recap: Plenty of Thieves and Coal for Cobalt

May 25, 2011
It was a strong week for Cobalt coal last week, but the past is the past. Power outages, cut deficits and even theft have the company wondering this week just when will things not only get better, but finally stay that way. With all new episodes of Coal airing Sundays at 8PM/7c, let's see if the Westchester crew found a way to get back on top in this week's episode, "A Mine Divided."

Night shift started slacking from the onset, and it couldn't have come at a worse time. With owners Tom Roberts, Mike Crowder, and all of Cobalt deep in the debt thanks to the necessary purchase of a new and expensive continuous miner, it was more important than ever for miner operator Randy Remines to come through. Too bad for Randy, he couldn't even find the coal, instead repeatedly cutting into the mountain several feet higher than he should have, and coming back with nothing but rock. After finally finding it, his shift had all but ended, leaving with a measly two cuts of coal on his record for the day.

As the day shift arrived, morale didn't improve. Miner man Andy Christian's $600 head lamp went missing and the hose fueling the continuous miner with water to keep it from overheating had frozen solid thanks to the single digit temperatures. He can't control the weather, but one thing that Tom Roberts was not prepared to stand for was thievery in his midst. Unfortunately for Roberts, the security footage in the mine office failed to yield the culprit, though it did knock it down to a few suspects including section foreman RB Davis and communications man David Matney. Roberts deeply trusts Davis, but as for Matney, he wasn't so sure. Meanwhile, the frozen hose wasn't about to stay that way. Until it was thawed, the miner couldn't operate, so Roberts and his years of mining experience were put to work and he, along with Johnny Simms, thawed it using an impromptu bonfire. With the hose ready, the miner was up and running again and everyone finally went back to work.

Later in the week, heavy snow began to fall in West Virginia, which didn't make matters any easier. The night shift barely got to work thanks to blocked roads, but it was trucker Beard and his company that really needed to get through. As excess coal began to pile it, it wasn't doing anyone any favors. If Cobalt can't get their coal to market, then they can't make payroll let alone pay the rest of their bills. You factor in all the additional stolen equipment including several more headlamps, pliers, and cables . . . well, Cobalt was quickly heading for a mighty quick default on that brand new miner of theirs.

Finally, the weather cleared enough for Beard to make his way up the mountain. Along with his fellow truckers, he cleared the 24 cuts of coal that had built up in front of the mine. The coal finally making its way to market meant that Cobalt would gain the funds needed to hook up their new generator. As the electricians got to work at putting it all together, Roberts and Crowder confronted their prime suspect in the thefts -- David Matney. The discussion quickly devolved into a shouting match with Roberts coming at Matney hard, but with no firm evidence against him and with Matney denying his involvement, the Cobalt management was left with no choice but to send him back to work and hope that they'd catch their thief red-handed next time he made his move.

Once the electricians were done hooking up the generator, smiling "Wildman" Jerry Edwards witnessed pure magic as Andy Christian stepped behind the newly energized continuous miner. Without any further power outages holding him back, Christian was able to make a record 10 cuts. That night, operator Randy Remines was prepared to make his own mark, cutting a personal best, eight cuts of coal. It was especially meaningful to Remines. He had been working as a miner operator for some time now for Cobalt, but he hadn't been given the official title or the salary that came with it. Push coming to shove, Remines had another job offer and was ready to jump ship. Despite his earlier missteps, Roberts and Crowder knew they had something special in Remines and weren't about to let him go, offering him everything he asked for. Just goes to show that if you work hard, sometimes you can be justly rewarded.

Tune in next Sunday at 8PM/7c for an all-new episode of Coal, and keep an eye out for exclusive content and updates on, Facebook and on Twitter.