According to a recent edition of National Mining Association International Coal Review, US coal exports increased 35% to 53.6 million short tons through June 2011. Strong demand from Asia and Europe for steam and metallurgical coal is expected to push coal exports above 100 million tons by the year’s end, the highest level in nearly 20 years.
NMA’s economic forecast prepared in May predicted 2011 coal exports would reach 101.5 million tons (up 24%). The Energy Information Administration’s August Short-term Energy Outlook predicts 2011 coal exports of 98 million tons. The annualised rate based on half year data would be about 107 million tons by the year’s end. In 2010, the US exported just more than 81 million tons of coal.
Steam coal exports through June 2011, excluding lignite and anthracite, increased 88% to 18 million tons and metallurgical coal exports increased nearly 18% to 35 million tons, according to the report. Anthracite and lignite exports were up 6% and 1% respectively.
NMA’s report found that imported coal, which stood at about 6.8 million tons year to date, was down about 31% from the 2010 level of 9.9 million tons. Annual coal imports peaked at 36.3 million tons in 2007, dropping somewhat in recent years. Coal imports totaled 22.6 million tons in 2010 and now account for roughly 2% of US coal consumption.