Anyone who can rustle up a few bucks (10-20% equity) can start up a mine.
1. Get a few investors. 2. Arrange a loan from the local bank. 3. Get a lease from the BLM 4. Get a few trucks, a few miners, a trailer as HQ. 5. Dig away. 6. If you can find a dumb Indian to sell to, it is also a lottery.
That is why there are hundreds of small coal miners.
Buying the smaller miners does nothing since it is difficult to creative acquisition. Getting those mines and operations up to standard is also expensive.
What is required is a couple of mergers amongst the top few to give perhaps 2 entities controlling 50-70% of annual coal output. That will give geographic scale, smoother contract pricing and production planning, and more usable opportunities to tap overseas markets.