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Top Central Appalachian mines cut output by nearly a third this year

The top 25 producing mines in Central Appalachia produced28% less at the end of the first quarter of 2016 compared to the prior yearperiod.

Production from all reporting mines in the basin dove tonearly 82 million tons in the year preceding the most recent quarter comparedto almost 114 million tons in the prior year, accordingto U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data.

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JMP CoalHoldings LLC's American Eagle mine in West Virginia lost the mostproduction in tonnage between this year and last, dropping nearly 46% fromabout 2.8 million tons in the year ending in 2015 to around 1.5 million tons inthe year preceding the most recent quarter. The total drop between those yearsis around 1.3 million tons.

In single quarter comparisons, American Eagle dropped bynearly half, from around 700,000 tons produced in the first quarter of 2015 toaround 360,000 tons in the first quarter of this year. JMP Coal's SamplesSurface mine also dropped by more than half between those same periods, fromaround 540,000 to approximately 250,000. Samples Surface decreased productionby 47.5% in the year ending in the most recent quarter compared to the prioryear.

Combs Branch Job, a Kentucky mine co-owned by JMP CoalHoldings, JMP HoldingsLLC, T A PotterEnterprises LLC, and RWEAktiengesellschaft, cut output to just under 14,000 tons in thefirst quarter of 2016 — a fraction of the nearly 259,000 tons it produced inthat period last year. The East Mac & Nellie mine owned by the sameconglomerate dropped 29.8% in year-long production compared to the prior yearand from about 279,000 tons in the first quarter of 2015 to just over 150,000tons in the same period this year.

In terms of full year production, 's Hobet mine dropped the most in terms of percentage, losing54.7% of its production from more than 2.5 million tons in the year ending inthe first quarter of 2015 to around 1.2 million tons in the year preceding themost recent quarter.

The Fund's Pinnacle mine — the third highest producing minein the region — dropped around 330,000 tons in the most recent quarter comparedfrom the same period last year, and produced 2.1 million tons in the full yearending in the most recent quarter, some 30.4% less than the nearly 3 milliontons it produced in the prior year. Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund Inc. hasbeen buying mineassets from various companies in an effort to sell coal bundled withreforestation carbon credits to try to help utility companies come in line withthe U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan.

's MT-101 mine cutproduction around 285,000 tons in the most recent quarter compared to the sameperiod in 2015. Analysts have recently maintained a high outlook for CONSOL shares, giving theman "outperform" rating as the company has managed to offset weakdomestic demand by increasing exports through Baltimore. The company a net loss attributableto shareholders in the first quarter of this year of $97.6 million. CONSOL hasbeen moving out of coal towards natural gas exploration though, and $46.2million of that loss was from discontinued operations.

The highest producing mine in the CAPP this quarter wasrecently sold byCONSOL to Coronado CoalLLC. Output at the Buchanan No. 1 mine dropped more than 125,000tons from around 1.2 million tons in the first quarter of 2015 to just over 1.1million tons in the most recent quarter. But the Virginia mine's productionactually increased by 1.8% in the year ending in the first quarter of 2016compared to the prior year. Coronado's Lower War Eagle mine in West Virginiadropped by 6.7% this year compared to the prior year.

saw a mixedbag of jumps and losses in production. Two of its biggest mines in the CAPPamped up their year-long production, with Deep 41 rising by 36.4% compared tothe prior year while its Ruby Energy mine jumped by 17.3%. Its Black CastleMining Co. and Process Energy mines both decreased in year-long production butactually rose in the most recent quarters compared to the year ago periods.

Alpha's No. 9A, RepublicEnergy and Aracoma Alma No. 1 mines all dropped in year-long productioncompared to the prior year as well as single quarter this year compared to thesame period last year, though. Alpha's Slabcamp and Reylas mines in WestVirginia were more or less flat in year-long production.Alpha filed for bankruptcy in 2015.

's top producing minesin the basin region all decreased production this year compared to the prioryear. Its Coal-Mac Inc. Holden No. 22 Surface mine, the second highestproducing in the basin, dropped 17% from just over 2.7 million tons in the yearending in the first quarter of 2015 to about 2.3 million tons this year. Thefirst quarter of 2016's production tonnage was nearly the same as the previousyear's period in that mine, though.

Output at Arch's MountaineerII and Beckley Pocahontas mines dropped both in year-long production and infirst quarter to first quarter production. Arch for bankruptcy on Jan. 11.