Shoal Creek Mine
The Shoal Creek Mine is the largest coal mine in Alabama. It stretches from its main portal at 8488 Nancy Ann Bend Road near Adger across parts of Jefferson, Walker and Tuscaloosa counties, extracting coking coal from the Blue Creek and Mary Lee seams of the Warrior Coal Basin.
The mine is owned and operated by Drummond Company, which uses underground longwall and continuous mining to remove coal. Workers at Shoal Creek are unionized and members of the United Mine Workers of America, Local 2133. In 2005 the mine employed 819 miners in three shifts, seven days a week, producing an average of 12,000 tons of washed coal per day. At peak operation the mine produces about 3 million tons of coal per year. The mine produces a medium-volatility, low-sulfur "metallurgical" coal used in coking operations. Historically, Shoal Creek coal was used in power generation.
Shoal Creek Mine, which is up to 1,300 feet deep at places, crosses beneath the main course of the Warrior River. The mine requires constant pumping, using 168 pumps to remove over 18 million gallons per day, which is returned to the river downstream.
The mine was the site of a series of methane gas explosions beginning on February 24, 2006, which caused significant flooding and other damage to the operation, but no injuries or loss of life. The company announced in December 2006 that it would idle the mine on December 6, laying off 455 workers. 81 employees would remain on site for care and maintenance of the idled facility. In February 2007 the mine was re-opened. Two other incidents in June, one causing damage to an underground wall and one, a lightning strike which injured five workers, prompted brief closures.
On August 8, 2007 the mine's 550 workers went on strike after one miner was suspended for absenteeism. Drummond filed suit to end the strike, which it claims is being conducted in violation of the collective bargaining agreement in place.
- "Drummond Co. to idle Shoal Creek Mine, lay off 455 union workers." (December 4, 2006) Birmingham Business Journal.
- Hubbard, Russell (August 11, 2007) "Miners walk off Shoal Creek site." Birmingham News.