FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- A new state report says coal production in Kentucky has reached its lowest level since 1965 and mining employment fell by 4,000 jobs in eastern Kentucky last year.
Coal-producing counties in eastern Kentucky have suffered in recent years from increased enforcement of federal mining laws, competition from natural gas and the mining out of easier-to-reach, underground coal seams. The Courier-Journal reports that employment at eastern Kentucky mines fell nearly 30 percent from December 2011 to December 2012. The drop was from 13,608 jobs down to 9,450.
Production in the region fell to 49.4 million tons, the lowest level since 1965. The report came from the state's Department for Energy Development and Independence.
In western Kentucky, production was up slightly last year by 2.5 percent, to 42 million tons.