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Below the Surface: Photographing Coal Miners Without the Stereotypes

Below the Surface: Photographing Coal Miners Without the Stereotypes
From TIME - April 6, 2017

A few miles south of Charleston, W.Va., in Chapmanville and Madison, the decline of the coal industry in the last decades has been particularly hard felt. Yet optimism is on the rise, as TIME's Justin Worland reports in this week's issue.

The state elected Jim Justice, a billionaire coal baron, as Governor, and the nation installed Donald Trump as President. Both men wooed West Virginia voters with the promise of more mining jobs and fewer regulations.

Peter van Agtmael, a Magnum photographer, visited both towns last month, shooting the photos featured here. In Monroe County, he also toured one of Southern Coal Corporation's mines, descending below the earth's surface with dozens of miners who continue to live off coal. "I was struck by how mechanized everything was," he told TIME of his experience inside the mine. "With all the talk about bringing back jobs for miners, it's a point that's not often made."

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