Hampton Roads is America’s biggest coal-exporting port. And coal exports are booming.
For the first quarter of 2018, Hampton Roads shipped 10.3 million tons of coal, a 16 percent increase from 8.9 million tons in the same period a year ago, according to data from Norfolk-based T. Parker Host Inc., the largest ship agent in the nation for vessels carrying dry-bulk cargo.
Norfolk Southern Corp.’s Pier 6 at Lamberts Point led the way in volume, moving 4.6 million tons from January through March, a 19 percent gain from a year earlier.
Dominion Terminal Associates in Newport News processed nearly 3.7 million tons in the same period, a 43 percent spike from last year.
Kinder Morgan’s Pier IX, also in Newport News, saw a 17 percent dip in volume, year-over-year for the quarter, to 2 million tons from 2.46 million tons.
The world coal market is split between “metallurgical” or “met” coal, used in steelmaking, and steam or “thermal” coal, which is used in electrical power plants.
Much of what moves through Hampton Roads is high-quality metallurgical coal from Central Appalachia, hauled to the port by Norfolk Southern and CSX Corp. trains.
Between 2016 and 2017, coal exports from Hampton Roads soared, increasing by 58.8 percent.
“It’s global or world dynamics that make this happen,” said David Host of T. Parker Host.
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- On April 26, 2018