Murray started his company in 1988 with the purchase of a single continuous mining operation with an annual output of 1 million tons per year. Murray Energy Corporation's strategy involves acquiring high sulfur reserves and aiming to be the low-cost producer in primary coal-sourcing regions of the United States. This strategy was based on Murray's belief that the transportation of low-sulfur thousands of miles from the Powder River Basin to meet the growing demand for electricity in some parts of the country was not a viable long-term solution. At the helm of Murray Energy, he began accumulating reserves that were strategically located near customers, near favorable transportation, and high in energy content (BTU per pound). Following this strategy, Murray Energy acquired reserves and expanded its operations in Southern Ohio, in Southwestern Pennsylvania, the Illinois Basin (Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois), and reserves and operations in Central Utah. One of Murray Energy's first acquisitions was the Powhatan No. 6 mine in Alledonia, Ohio. The Powhatan mine is the only mine operated by a Murray Energy Corporation independent operating subsidiary that is unionized.
Today, Murray Energy Corporation produces approximately 30 million tons of bituminous coal each year and employs approximately 3,000 people in the United States. In addition to its mining operations, Murray Energy owns and operates river, truck, and rail terminals on the Ohio River; a rail loadout facility in Central Utah; and a diesel and mining equipment rebuild facility in West Virginia.