Houston — Coal production in the Powder River Basin totaled nearly 83.9 million st in the fourth quarter of 2018, down 3.1% from Q3 and up 0.6% from the same quarter in 2017, Mine Health and Safety Administration data showed Thursday.
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Annual production totaled over 324 million st, down 3% year on year, largely given production declines from the Cloud Peak's Wyoming Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines, along with Arch Coal's Coal Creek mine in Wyoming.
Peabody Energy's North Antelope Rochelle mine, the basin's largest mine, produced over 24.5 million st in Q4, up 14.9% from the prior quarter and down 5.6% from the year-ago quarter. Annually, production totaled over 98.3 million st, down 3.2% from its 2017 production.
The second largest mine in the basin, Arch's Black Thunder mine, produced nearly 17.6 million st in the final quarter of the year and 71.1 million st throughout 2018. Fourth quarter production rose 6.8% from Q3 and went up 1.1% from the year-ago quarter. Annual production rose 0.9% from the prior year.
Antelope mine produced over 5.8 million st in Q4, up 19.2% from Q3, the largest quarter-on-quarter increase since Q3 2016, when production from the mine rose 37.5% from Q2. Despite the large quarterly increase, production dropped 11.6% from the year-ago quarter.
The combined output of North Antelope Rochelle, Black Thunder and Antelope mines, the three mines which produce 8,800 Btu/lb coal in the basin, totaled 62.9% of total PRB production with over 47.9 million st. From Q3 production the mines output rose 6.4%, and from the year-ago quarter output rose 4%.
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For the year, PRB 8,800 Btu/lb production totaled 192.6 million st, down 4% from 2017, and produced 62.8% of annual production from the basin.
Total PRB 8,400 Btu/lb production, taking up 37.1% of basin production, totaled almost 28.3 million st in Q4. On an annual basis, production for the lower heat content coal totaled over 114.2 million st, taking up 37.2% of total production and rising 11% from 2017 production.
On a state basis, production from Montana mines, which include Cloud Peaks' Spring Creek mine, Westmoreland's Rosebud and Absaloka mines, and Lighthouse Resources Decker mine, totaled 8.6 million st in Q4, up 8.2% from Q3 and up 9% from the year-ago quarter.
For the year, Montana coal production totaled over 30.7 million st, up 5.7% from 2017.
Quarterly production from Spring Creek, with a heat content of 9,300 Btu/lb, jumped 23% from the year-ago Q4 with production of over 3.8 million st, while Rosebud jumped 82.1% quarter over quarter in 2018. Decker mine was the only mine to drop from Q3 in Q4, down 28.2%.
Annually, Rosebud, which produced 8.4 million st, was the only mine to drop output, down 2.7% from 2017.
Output from the Wyoming mines, excluding the three 8,800 Btu/lb mines, totaled 27.3 million st, down 0.3% from Q3 and up 7.2% from the year-ago quarter. Production totaled over 100.8 million st for the year, down 3.6% from the year prior.
Kiewit Mining's Buckskin mine had the largest quarterly increase, up 45.3% from Q3 with 4.2 million st. Production from the mine also rose 22.8% from the year-ago quarter.
Western Fuels' Dry Fork mine, which produced over 1.8 million st, followed with a quarter on quarter increase of 37.6% and year over year jump of 42.6%.
With production of nearly 3.3 million st in Q4, Cordero Rojo dropped 1.9% from the prior quarter and 16.9% from the year-ago quarter. From 2017 annual production, output dropped 23.1% with an annual production of 12.6 million st in 2018.
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