They have risen since 2016 as international prices have made it more economic for US producers to sell the fuel source overseas.
That’s according to latest figures from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), which suggests the export of coal reached 116 million short tons (MMst) last year, based on foreign trade data collected by the US Census Bureau. It adds coal exports from the US have increased since 2016 as international prices have made it more economic for US producers to sell the fuel source overseas. Coal consumption in the country has, however, generally declined since its 2008 peak. Last year, the US exported 15% of its coal and the remaining 85% was sold to end-use markets, primarily the power sector and industrial customers.
The EIA states: “Strong international demand has led to export prices increasing in recent years; coal export prices have increased in each of the past two years to average $59 (£45) per ton for steam coal and $138 (£106) per ton for metallurgical coal in 2018. Metallurgical coal, which is used in the steel-making process, has greater value than steam coal, which is used to create heat for industrial processes, commercial use and utility-scale electricity generation.
“Asian countries account for about 75% of metallurgical coal trade in the world and increased demand in China and India in 2017 and 2018 has helped push metallurgical coal prices up throughout Asia.” US steam coal exports to Asia increased from 5MMst in 2016 to 20MMst last year – nearly 40% of total exports.
India, Japan and South Korea were the primary countries in Asia for US steam coal and exports have also increased to some new markets such as Egypt, Thailand and Ukraine in recent years.