While on the campaign trail in West Virginia last year, Donald Trump donned a hardhat and pantomimed digging coal with a shovel. The coal miners in the audience would soon be back to work, he promised: “Get ready, because you are going to be working your asses off.”
The only problem: Coal miners no longer swing a pickax or wield a shovel. While coal companies are hiring again, executives are starting to search for workers who can crunch gigabytes of data or use a joystick to maneuver mining vehicles hundreds of miles away.
“If you do PlayStation, you can run a 300-ton truck,” said Douglas Blackburn, a fourth-generation miner himself who runs the industry consultancy Blackacre LLC. For an industry once notorious for its risks, “the worst that can happen is you sprain a thumb.”
Image courtesy of Bloomberg.