Washington, 5 March (Argus) — US thermal coal exports rose for a third straight month in January on the strength of demand from some customers in Asia and Latin America.
The US exported 2.5mn short tons (2.3mn metric tonnes) of steam coal during the month, up from 2.4mn st a year earlier, US Census Bureau data released today show.
The pace of exports slowed down from November, which had been an 18-month high of 3.3mn st, and December as shipments to India, Japan and the Netherlands eased off of the multi-month highs set at the end of 2020. But shipments to all of those countries still topped January 2020 levels.
Thermal coal exports also benefitted from a rise in shipments to China, possibly as a result of its informal ban on Australian coal imports as well as a cold snap in December that boosted power plant consumption. The US exported about 66,100st of steam coal to China in January, compared with almost zero a year earlier.
The last time US thermal coal exports to China were higher was in June 2019.
India remained the top destination for US thermal coal, with about 746,500st bound there in January, up from more than 626,600st a year earlier.
US steam coal exports to Japan climbed to about 134,000st from 103,100st in January 2020. But the gains in shipments to India, China and Japan were offset by a 17pc decline in exports to South Korea, the second-largest Asian destination for US coal, as well as decreased shipments to Singapore.
No bituminous thermal coal headed to South Korea in January, compared with more than 209,500st in the same month of 2020. But sub-bituminous coal exports to South Korea climbed to nearly 516,100st from 414,000st.
Total US sub-bituminous coal exports rose to nearly 583,200st from about 429,700st because of the increase in volumes to South Korea and to Japan. No other countries were destinations for US sub-bituminous coal in January. A year earlier, the US shipped about 78,700st of sub-bituminous coal to Canada and Mexico.
Steam coal exports to Germany, Poland, the Dominican Republic and Peru also climbed from a year earlier. The gain in shipments to Germany, Poland and the Netherlands brought US thermal coal exports to Europe up to 520,300st from 447,300st in January 2020. That was the first year-on-year increase for steam coal shipments to the continent since July.
Thermal coal exports to Central and South America also rose, to more than 225,300st from about 132,400st.
Total US exports declined to 5.7mn st in January from 6.2mn st a year earlier as metallurgical coal shipments dropped to a five-month low.
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- On March 11, 2021