January 29, 2018 Read More →

Data: 2017’s U.S. Coal Gains Are Disappearing

S&P Global Market Intelligence:

While multiple reports have suggested the coal sector had a better 2017 than 2016, preliminary data available from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration database shows production and employment declined by 1.1% and 1.4%, respectively, from the prior quarter.

The U.S. coal sector continues to face a loss of utility coal customers despite relief from President Donald Trump’s efforts to push deregulation of the energy sector. The remaining, aging coal fleet is increasingly being replaced by other forms of generation. While export opportunities come and go with international markets, the bulk of U.S. coal production goes to domestic customers.

With metallurgical coal prices volatile, analyst Michael Dudas suggested in a recent note that miners may become “more cautious in bringing on” some of the planned increases in output that were on the board for the U.S.

Betsy Monseu, CEO of the American Coal Council, said in a December 2017 interview that coal’s outlook for 2018 was brighter based on improved market conditions and reforms undertaken by the Trump administration.

“The changes in policy, regulations, and markets are already contributing to a stronger domestic coal industry,” Monseu said. “The policy and regulatory changes can provide a path to sustainability and the ability to compete that simply wasn’t there in recent years prior with the continuing threats of the Obama-era regulations.”

More ($): Early data suggests coal jobs, production took a dip in most recent quarter


Preliminary data say Powder River Basin coal production fell to 75.5 million tons in the last few months of 2017, about a seven million ton drop compared to the final three months of the previous year.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration show production at the 12 mines in northern Wyoming, however, rose to 305.3 million tons in 2017, a 6.3 percent increase compared to the year prior.

Wyoming Mining Association Executive Director Travis Deti says he believed Powder River Basin coal companies anticipated the numbers and could likely absorb the diminished demand.

The 12 mines provide the bulk share of the country’s coal supply.

Data: Coal production dropped in final 3 months of 2017

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