The author outlines the role that coal has played from the expansive phase of industrial development to the present days. Coal is still the most abundant and widespread fossil fuel, whose consumption is driven by the impetuous growth of China and India and the recent increase in production in the United States. Thus, the mining proletariat still exists: there are operative coal mines on all continents and coal miners are more than those who worked in the English coal mines at the time of the industrial revolution; in some countries their working conditions are not very different from those of two centuries ago, whereas Trade Unions are weaker or non-existent. This gives an unexpected topicality to the study of the work of miners between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which the author also performs through the contribution of literature, starting from the characteristics of an unnatural and hostile work environment, which the industrial hunger of fossil and metal-mining resources has prevented (and still prevents) from considering a denial of human condition.
Keywords: Coal miners, working conditions, working class, industrial revolution