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US coal exports total 88 million mt in 2017, up 60.9%: Census

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Houston — US coal exports totaled 88 million mt in 2017, up 60.9% from the prior year, US Census data showed Tuesday.

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It was the highest annual total since 2014 when exports hit 88.3 million mt, and backed largely by strong seaborne coal prices into Europe and Asia.

During the year, the Platts CIF ARA assessment for delivered thermal coal into Northern Europe (basis 6,000 kcal/kg NAR), averaged $84.77/mt, the highest since 2012 when CIF ARA prices averaged $91.80/mt.

The Platts NEAT index for delivered thermal coal into Kinuura, Japan, which launched January 3, 2017, averaged $89.32/mt during the year.

Also in 2017, the Platts assessment for FOB US East Coast low vol metallurgical coal averaged $173.95/mt, up 39% from 2016.

For the month of December, coal exports totaled 8.61 million mt, down 0.6% from November but up 19.8% from the year-ago month, the data showed.

Metallurgical coal exports totaled 50.1 million mt in 2017, up 35% from 2016.

Top met coal export destinations in 2017 were Brazil, at 6.6 million mt compared with 6.2 million mt a year earlier; Japan, at 4.5 million mt compared with 3.6 million mt in 2016; and Ukraine, at 3.9 million mt compared with 1.8 million mt in 2016.

Bituminous coal exports in 2017 totaled 29.7 million mt, up 108% from the year before.

Top bituminous coal export destinations during the year were India, at 6.8 million mt compared with 2.4 million mt the prior year; the Netherlands at 5.3 million mt, down from 5.5 million mt in 2016; and Japan at 2.3 million mt, up from 429,771 mt the prior year.

By port, bituminous coal exports in 2017 were highest from New Orleans, at 9.4 million mt compared with 4.7 million mt in 2016, while exports from Baltimore totaled 9.2 million mt, up from 4.7 million mt in 2016.

Subbituminous coal exports totaled 7.4 million mt in 2017, up 215% from 2016.

The top importer of US subbituminous coal in the year was South Korea, at 3.7 million mt compared with 423,717 mt in 2016; Mexico, at 2.2 million mt compared with 1.6 million mt; and Moroco, at 432,616 mt compared with 61,224 mt in 2016.

--Jeffrey McDonald,
--Edited by Lisa Miller,