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Powder River Basin second quarter production down 21.5% on quarter: MSHA


Record low quarterly PRB production following pandemic

PRB annualized output of 223 million st: EIA

  • Author
  • Olivia Kalb
  • Editor
  • Pritish Raj
  • Commodity
  • Coal

Houston — Powder River Basin coal production totaled 49.2 million st in the April-June quarter, down 21.5% from the previous quarter, Mine Safety and Health Administration data showed August 3.

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From the year-ago quarter, output declined 31.1%. It was the steepest decline in production, both quarter on quarter and year on year, since the first quarter of 2016.

S&P Global Platts began tracking MSHA PRB production data in 2003, when output totaled 400 million st for the year, or an average of 100 million st per quarter, leaving output in the most recent quarter at a record low.

The decline in output was driven by both low demand for thermal coal in power generation and the coronavirus pandemic, which led to over 500 employees being laid off or furloughed by PRB producers beginning in March.

Second quarter production from Peabody Energy's North Antelope/Rochelle mine totaled nearly 14 million st in Q2, down 20.1% from the January-March quarter and down 28.2% from the year-ago quarter.

Arch Resources' Black Thunder mine produced 10.1 million st, down 25.9% quarter on quarter and down 39.3% from the year-ago quarter.

Antelope mine, recently acquired by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company, produced 4.4 million st in the second quarter, down 19.9% from the quarter before and down 18.8% from the year-ago quarter.

The only two mines to increase output from the first quarter were Blackjewel Mining's Eagle Butte mine and Black Hills' Wyodak mine, by 7.4% and 8.6%, respectively. The Wyodak mine was also the only mine to increase production year on year, by 5.5%.

Output from Eagle Butte totaled over 3 million st and Wyodak totaled 972,229 st.

Peabody produced almost 18 million st, down 23.6% from Q1 and down 27.7% year on year. Output from Arch's PRB mines was at 10.6 million st, down 25.2% from the prior quarter and down 38.2% from the year-ago quarter.

NTEC's PRB mines, which it acquired from Cloud Peak Energy during the producer's Chapter 11 Bankruptcy reorganization last year, produced 8.9 million st, down 19.4% quarter on quarter and down 25.4% from the year-ago quarter.

According to Energy Information Administration data, weekly output from the PRB was about 4.4 million st through the week ended July 25. On an annualized basis, it would be about 223 million st, down 28.3% from 2019.