Black Thunder Coal Mine

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Black Thunder Coal Mine
Black Thunder Coal Mine is located in Wyoming
Black Thunder Coal Mine
Black Thunder Coal Mine
Location in Wyoming
State Wyoming
Country United States
Coordinates 43°40′N 105°18′W / 43.667°N 105.300°W / 43.667; -105.300Coordinates: 43°40′N 105°18′W / 43.667°N 105.300°W / 43.667; -105.300
Products Coal
Opened 1977
Company Arch Coal

The Black Thunder Coal Mine is a surface coal mine in the U.S. state of Wyoming, located in the Powder River Basin which contains one of the largest deposits of coal in the world. Black Thunder is the second most productive mine in the United States, providing the U.S. with eight percent of its coal supply.[1] In 2007, the mine produced 86,196,275 short tons (78.2 million metric tonnes) of coal,[2] nearly 20 percent of Wyoming's total coal production, and higher than 23 other individual coal producing states.[2]

Black Thunder’s dragline excavator is the biggest in the world and produces enough coal to load up to 20-25 trains per day.[3] Draglines are not used to dig coal but only strip overburden. Black Thunder operates six draglines, not just one. Coal is excavated by power shovels and loaded into haul trucks.[4]

In 2009, the America’s Power Factuality Tour stopped at the Black Thunder Coal Mine to report on its role in generating electricity in the United States.[1]

In 2010, the Black Thunder Mine dug up an estimated 115 million tons of coal, an increase of 34 million tons over 2009. The increase was a result of merging the Jacobs Ranch Mine - and its average 38 million tons per year - into the Black Thunder's annual production. With the acquisition of Jacobs Ranch Mine, Black Thunder is now the world's top coal producer.[5]

In 2011, the America Revealed “Electric Nation” episode aired on PBS and features Thunder Basin’s Black Thunder coal mine.[3]


The mine was opened in 1977, and run by ARCO Coal until it was acquired in 1998 by Arch Coal.[6] For most of its existence, Black Thunder has been the largest mine in the country (by production), but it was surpassed by the nearby North Antelope Rochelle Mine. North Antelope Rochelle was created after Peabody Energy purchased the Rochelle mine next door to their North Antelope Mine and consolidated operations. Arch Coal, Inc. announced on March 9, 2009 that it has agreed to purchase Rio Tinto's Jacobs Ranch mine adjoining Black Thunder, which resulted in Black Thunder once again becoming the largest mine in the world.[7]


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