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Central Appalachia coal production drops to over 37-year low in 2020: MSHA

Highlights

Over 10.78 mil st produced in Q4, down 31% on year

Buchanan remains largest mine in region

Houston — Coal mines in Central Appalachia produced over a 37-year low 46.04 million st in 2020, down 36.7% from 72.7 million st produced in 2019 and the lowest on record, dating back to 1984, according to US Mine Safety and Health Administration data.

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The region produced over 10.78 million st of coal in the fourth quarter, down 0.2% from 10.81 million st in Q3 and 31% lower than the 15.64 million st produced in the year-ago quarter. The latest quarter was also down 40.6% from the five-year average for the quarter.

The region has seen eight quarterly decreases in the last 10 quarters. Nine of the top 13 mines in Central Appalachia saw quarterly declines in Q4.

Coronado Global Resources' Buchanan mine produced 1.17 million st in Q4, up from 710,239 st in Q3 and 988,264 st in the year-ago quarter. The low-volatile metallurgical underground mine has been the largest-producing mine in the region since 2013. Buchanan produced 3.77 million st of coal in 2020, down from 4.94 million st a year earlier.

In second was Alpha Metallurgical Resources' (formerly Contura Energy) Deep Mine 41, which produced a record-high 563,938 st in Q4, up from 536,894 st in the prior quarter and 431,466 st in the year-ago quarter.

Rounding out the top three was Alpha's Workman Creek surface mine, which produced 422,605 st in Q4, down from 436,798 st in Q3, but higher than 400,247 st in the year-ago quarter. Deep Mine 41 produced 2.1 million st in 2020, up from 1.63 million st a year earlier, while Workman Creek produced 1.69 million st, up from 1.68 million st in 2019.

Bristol, Tennessee-based Alpha had eight of the top 20 producing mines in Q4 to remain the largest coal producer in the region.

Its 23 mines produced 3.2 million st in Q4, down from 3.48 million st in Q3 and 3.72 million st in the year-ago quarter. The company produced 13.75 million st in 2020, down from 15.46 million st a year earlier.

Sev.en Energy (formerly Blackhawk Mining) was the second-largest CAPP coal producer in Q4 with 1.61 million st, up from 1.6 million st in Q3, but down from 2.59 million st in Q4 2019. The miner produced 7.36 million st in 2020, down from 12.59 million st in 2019.

Surface production falls, underground production rises on quarter

Surface mine production in Central Appalachia was at 4.03 million st in Q4, down from 4.17 million st in Q3 and 6.94 million st in Q4 2019.

Alpha's Workman Creek mine remained the largest surface mine for the second straight quarter, while Condor Holdings' Holden mine (formerly owned by Arch Resources) produced 295,207 st in Q4, down from 332,323 st in Q3 and 531,511 st in the year-ago quarter.

The remaining 6.75 million st was produced by underground mines in Q4, led by the Buchanan mine, which was up from 6.64 million st produced in Q3, but down from 8.69 million st in the year-ago quarter.

Underground coal production was at 28.95 million st in 2020, down from 39.7 million st a year ago, while surface production was at 17.09 million st, down from 32.47 million st in 2019.