What did the miners do?

A miner is a person who extracts ore, coal, chalk, clay or other minerals from the earth by mining. The term is used in two senses. In its narrowest sense, a miner is someone who works at the rock face; cutting, blasting or working and extracting the rock. Mining technology consists of the tools, methods and knowledge used to locate, extract and process mineral and metal deposits in the earth.

The methods used to locate deposits range from field reconnaissance by prospectors to remote sensing techniques such as satellite imagery. Mining excavations are carried out on the surface or underground. From Coeur d'Alene in Idaho to Tombstone in Arizona, boom towns flourished throughout the American West. They produced not only gold and silver, but also zinc, copper and lead, all essential to the Industrial Revolution in the East.

Soon, the West was filled with unhappy people hoping to strike it rich. In the days of Pardee, Coxe, Fagley, Fulton, Dewees, Paterson, Riley, Repplier, Graeber and a hundred others, men were better paid than ever since the late Franklin B. Gowen's ideas of centralisation became fixed institutions in the anthracite counties. It may be true that in the days of individual operation the cost per ton of mining coal was less than it is today.

But it is not right that all the increased cost of mining should be charged to the miner. That is what is being done, if you count the reductions made in wages. We miners do not share in the high coal prices. The operators try to prove otherwise by juggling with the figures, but their tests have hit the nail on the head and the drill shows no coal in that section.

Half the price paid for a ton of coal in New York or Philadelphia goes into the pocket of the mine owner, either as a hauler or as a miner.

David Gerula
David Gerula

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