US coal exports extended year-over-year gains in August, led by increased demand to countries in Asia and Africa.
A total 7.69mn short tons (st) (6.98mn metric tonnes) of coal departed US ports during the month, US Census Bureau data released today show. That was up from 4.54mn st a year earlier and less than 1pc below August 2019 shipments.
Both thermal and metallurgical coal exports rose from the year prior. Steam coal exports, which more than doubled from August 2020 to 3.43mn st, also topped August 2019’s 2.95mn st.
Total exports were bolstered by shipment gains to China, India, South Korea, Japan, Canada and Egypt. Steam coal exports to countries in Europe also rose from August 2020 levels, but were offset by a decrease in coking coal volumes.
South Korea outpaced India as the main destination for US steam coal in August. Ships laden with 734,120st of thermal coal left US ports en route to South Korea during the month, up from 184,829st a year earlier. Roughly 61pc of the shipments were sub-bituminous coal.
Steam coal exports to India climbed to 690,868st from 442,453st a year earlier and were entirely bituminous coal, US Census estimates show.
Meanwhile, thermal coal exports to Egypt and Morocco climbed to 420,864st and 248,572st, respectively, from zero and 77,162st a year earlier. That helped bring total exports to Africa up to 841,295st from 77,162st a year earlier.
Within Europe, steam coal exports to the Netherlands rose to 248,547st from 226,064st in August 2020. And shipments to Germany increased to 181,350st from zero. Those two countries accounted for about 95pc of US steam coal exports to Europe.
Thermal coal exports to China also rose, to 62,243st from just 64st a year earlier. And US steam coal shipments to the country for the first eight months of the year were a record 702,965st, benefiting from supply shortages in China and the country’s trade dispute with Australia.
But coking coal remained the dominant US export to China, climbing to 1.55mn st from zero a year earlier.
Metallurgical shipments made China the primary US trading partner for coal in August. The next two largest destinations were India and South Korea.
A total of 4.12mn st of US coal went to countries in Asia, up from 1.36mn st a year earlier. Metallurgical coal shipments to Asia climbed to 2.33mn st from 474,150st while steam coal doubled to 1.79mn st from 884,620st.
Coal exports to Europe fell to 1.52mn st from 1.79mn st, as a 31pc drop in metallurgical coal shipments to the continent more than offset the increase in thermal coal volumes.
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- On October 14, 2021