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|In the early 1970s, Jim Walter Resources, Inc. (JWR) embarked on a coal mine expansion program that was unparalleled in the history of the United States. With a small nucleus of people then operating two rapidly depleting captive mines, action was initiated to develop four of the deepest mines in the United States. Because of the depth of these mines, operational and technical problems were anticipated. However, because of the high quality of the coal (Blue Creek Seam), the financial risks involved were acceptable. The total investment to get the expansion program completed (to get the new mines to full capacity) would represent an investment of over US$ 500 million.By the end of the decade of the 1970s, the Company had grown to 2100 employees who were producing 1640,000 tonne of saleable coal per year, a productivity rate of 3.9 tonne per man-shift. This productivity rate was not sufficient to maintain a profitable, viable organisation. Therefore, if the operations were going to survive, it would be necessary to improve productivity tremendously, a task which would tax the resources and imagination of all employees.|