In what some industry observers are calling a stroke of television casting magic, the producers of TLC’s Deadliest Catch are working on a 10-episode Spike TV docu-series on mining in West Virginia, The Hollywood Reporter dished on Thursday.

News of the upcoming series premiere of Coal comes as TV viewers around the world remain captivated by the rescue of 33 trapped Chilean miners this week. More than 1 billion people worldwide tuned in to watch the harrowing saga unfold via live stream this week.

Spike TV executives, however, say the show has been in development for about a year.

“It didn’t take a tragedy, and then a miracle, to get us excited about this,” says Sharon Levy, executive vice president of original programming at Spike, told The Hollywood Reporter. “Obviously, we’re humongous fans of the kind of shows Thom does that celebrate the everyday man. He said, ‘We’re working on this project called Coal. And we said we’d take it.”

The network postponed formally announcing the premiere of the new show until the Chilean miners — who spent two months trapped nearly a mile underground in a collapsed mine — were safely rescued.

“We’ve tapped into something that people are passionate about; this is a topic the world is interested in,” Levy says. “Everybody is afraid of being buried alive. These people risk their lives every day to make the world move, yet most of us never really think about how we get [our energy].”

Coal will focus on Mike Crowder and Tom Roberts, co-owners of Cobalt Mine in Westchester, West Virginia, and their mining team of more than 40 employees. The series is executive produced by Thom Beers and his Original Productions company, which also produces Ice Road Truckers and Ax Men.

The series premiere of Coal will debut in April 2011.

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