Not every part of the coal industry is hurting. While thermal coal has seen better days, metallurgical coal — the kind used in the steel-making process — has seen a strong uptick in production and sales.
The boost in metallurgical coal is due in large part to the amount of exports, which jumped 35 percent to 55.2 million short tons in 2017, according to recently released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Where is the coal going?
Canada, Japan and Ukraine were the biggest customers for U.S.-made metallurgical coal during 2017.
Japan took in the most U.S. metallurgical coal, with 4.9 million short tons, up 26 percent from 2016. That was followed by Ukraine, which saw a 113 percent increase to 4.3 million. Canada’s 4.1 million was up 9.8 percent.
The highest percentage increases by country were China, which increased its coal imports from the U.S. by 304 percent to 2.9 million short tons, and Poland, whose imports of U.S. metallurgical coal rose 244 percent to 831,000 short tons.
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- On April 24, 2018