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Despite bituminous exports falling over 30% on the month, US coal exports rose to a four-month high of 6.27 million mt in March, as metallurgical exports recovered from its three-year low in February, according to US Census Bureau data released Tuesday.

March coal exports were up 1.2% from 6.19 million mt in February but 25% lower than the 8.36 million mt exported in the year-ago month.

Thermal exports fell to 2.39 million mt in March, down 19.5% from the nine-month high of 2.96 million mt in February, and 29.4% lower than 3.38 million mt in March 2019.

Year-to-date thermal exports stood at 7.54 million mt, down 26.8% from the first three months of 2019.

Bituminous exports were at 1.81 million mt in March, down 31.4% from February and 37% from a year ago.

India received the largest volume of bituminous coal at 1.03 million mt in March, down from 1.57 million mt in February but up from 774,759 mt in the year-ago month.

Rounding out the top three were South Korea and the Dominican Republic, which took deliveries of 192,710 mt and 163,400 mt of bituminous coal in March, compared with 242,413 mt and 183,500 mt, respectively, in February.

Subbituminous exports were at a four-month high of 534,105 mt in March, up 70.6% from February and 8% higher than a year ago.

South Korea received 374,868 mt, or 70.2% of the total subbituminous exports in March, up from 269,324 mt in February and 254,076 mt in the year-ago month. Japan received 75,703 mt in March, after not receiving any subbituminous coal in February or the year-ago month, while exports to Mexico were at 43,390 mt, down from 43,826 mt in February and 185,389 mt in March 2019.

Year-to-date bituminous exports are at 6.19 million mt, while subbituminous exports are at 1.29 million mt, down 30.5% and 2.6%, respectively.

For the year, the top bituminous coal export destinations are India, at 3.17 million mt compared with 2.73 million mt in the year-ago period; South Korea, at 625,164 mt compared with zero in the first three months of 2019; Dominican Republic at 466,632 mt compared with 148,147 mt; the Netherlands at 395,068 mt compared with 1.19 million mt; and Japan at 334,146 mt compared with 923,429 mt.

The top importing countries of US subbituminous coal for the first three months were South Korea, at 1.02 million mt compared with 690,650 mt last year; Mexico at 158,464 compared with 471,752 mt; and Japan at 75,703 mt, compared with zero in the first three months.


Metallurgical coal exports jumped to 3.88 million mt in March, up 20.3 from the three-year low 3.23 million mt in February but down 22% on the year.

Brazil, the largest met coal importer, took delivery of 794,787 mt in March, up from 456,406 mt in February and 524,915 mt in the year-ago month. Ukraine imported 566,062 mt in March, up from 185,434 mt in February, while the Netherlands and Japan took delivery of 532,424 mt and 427,229 mt, respectively, compared with 105,216 mt and 423,934 mt in February.

Year-to-date met exports are at 10.58 million mt, down 15.8% from the same period a year ago.

For the year, the top metallurgical coal export destinations are Brazil, at 1.89 million mt compared with 1.66 million mt in the year-ago period; India at 1.16 million mt compared with 1.26 million mt; Japan at 1.07 million mt compared with 1.52 million mt; Ukraine at 1.02 million mt compared with 788,072 mt; and South Korea at 998,820 mt, compared with 803,488 mt a year ago.