Appalachian coal production increased in the first quarter of 2023 to meet higher demand from seaborne coal markets.
Northern and Central Appalachian coal mines produced a combined 38.9mn short tons (35.3mn metric tonnes) in the first quarter, up by 4.3pc from the same quarter in 2022, according to US Mine Safety and Health Administration data.
Much of the production increases likely went toward fulfilling export agreements signed last year and early in 2023. Spot market trading activity was limited last quarter.
US coal exports jumped to an almost four-year high of 24.6mn st in the first quarter from 20.2mn st a year earlier, according to US Commerce Department data released 4 May.
Shipments out of Baltimore, Maryland, were at a record high of just over 7mn st. US exports out of the Norfolk, Virginia, Census district rose to 8.88mn st from 7.79mn st.
Both thermal and metallurgical coal exports from Baltimore and Norfolk were higher last quarter than a year earlier.
Appalachian coal producers benefited from EU buyers’ interest last year in moving away from Russian coal. Cement makers’ interest in Northern Appalachian coal exports also picked up in January and February 2023, when petroleum coke prices were higher.
Northern Appalachian mines produced 23.3mn st of coal in the first quarter, rising by 2pc from the same period in 2022, MSHA data show.
American Consolidated Natural Resources (ACNR) remained the top producer in the basin at 7.5mn st in the quarter, down by 2.6pc from a year earlier.
The company’s Marshall County mine drove down overall production, declining by 38pc to 1.6mn st. Additionally, ACNR’s Century mine, which produced 252,405st during in the first quarter of 2022, was retired in the middle of last year.
Alliance Resource Partners’ Pittsburgh Seam production also fell from a year prior, dropping by 14pc to 2.1mn st. Output from the producer’s Tunnel Ridge mine decreased by 13pc to 1.8mn st, while output at its Mountain View mine decreased by 21pc to 347,927st.
These declines were offset by increases in Consol Energy’s production, which rose by 11pc to more than 7mn st of coal. Consol’s Bailey mine produced 3.3mn st of coal, up by 7.7pc from a year earlier, while its Enlow Fork mine produced 2.4mn st of coal, up by 35pc from a year earlier.
The three major Northern Appalachian producers made up over 71pc of the region’s coal output last quarter.
Central Appalachian coal production rose last quarter by a larger margin than Northern Appalachian output. Mines in the region produced 15.6mn st of coal, climbing by 7.9pc from a year prior.
Most of the coal production increases in Central Appalachia came from smaller metallurgical coal mines.
Alpha Metallurgical Resources, the largest coal producer in the region, increased output to 4.3mn st from 4.2mn st. Alpha’s only thermal coal mine Slabcamp produced 158,138st, down by 48pc from its production in the first quarter of 2022. The company originally expected to close Slabcamp in the middle of 2022, but it is now likely to continue operations through 2023.
Blackhawk Mining’s Central Appalachian coal production rose by 12pc last quarter to 2.4mn st. The company’s highest producing mine during this period, Blue Creek No 1 UG, more than doubled its output to 392,776st.
Coronado Coal’s production climbed by 6.3pc to 1.8mn st of coal as output from its Buchanan Mine No 1, the largest mine in Central Appalachia, was up by 1.8pc to 1.2mn st.
Together these three major producers made up about 54pc of Central Appalachian production in the first quarter.
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- On May 23, 2023