Gillette, Wyoming, is a small city of just over 30,000 people. Its economy is deeply dependent on the extraction industry: oil, gas, uranium and especially coal. Wyoming produces about 40 percent of American coal, and Campbell County, where Gillette is located, produces more than 80 percent of Wyoming’s coal.
Wyoming uses western mining — not the underground maze you might imagine when you think of a coal mine, but a collection of huge, open pits. They look like quarries with cliffs for sides, and looking down from the ledge, the 50-foot trucks inside seem like Matchbox cars.