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Alberta coal production falls to over 12-year low in July

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Alberta coal production falls to over 12-year low in July

Highlights

Metallurgical, subbituminous output at 12-year lows

Cumulative bituminous thermal production up 31% on year

Houston — Coal production in Alberta, Canada, fell to over a 12-year year low 1.3 million mt in July, down from 1.77 million mt in June and 1.78 million mt, according to data from the Alberta Energy Regulator released Sept. 15.

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Bituminous thermal coal output ticked lower to 840,488 mt in July, down from the 12-year high 1.03 million mt in June, but up from 593,157 mt in the year-ago month. Production at Coalspur Mines' Vista thermal mine, owned by the Cline Group and based in Hinton, fell to 678,353 mt, from 855,821 mt in June, but up from 327,009 mt in July 2019.

Coalspur, which first started production in February 2019, has produced 4.38 million mt through the first seven months of 2020, nearly tripling the 1.53 million mt in the same period a year ago.

Alberta's other bituminous thermal mine, Coal Valley, which is owned by Westmoreland Mining Holdings, produced 162,135 mt in July, down from 172,780 mt in June and 266,148 mt in July 2019.

Bituminous thermal coal production through the first seven months of 2020 is up 31.1% year on year at 5.32 million mt.

Both Coal Valley and Coalspur, which are mined from the same seam, ship all of their coal by rail to ports on the west coast of British Columbia for deliveries to power plants overseas.

According to AER data, roughly 506,540 mt of bituminous thermal coal was exported from Alberta in July, up from 468,920 mt in June and 343,841 mt in July 2019.

South Korea was shipped 350,557 mt in July, up from 134,741 mt in June and zero in the year-ago month, while 87,830 mt and 86,984 mt was exported to Japan and Singapore, respectively. The 350,557 mt was the second-highest thermal coal shipped to any country in the last 12 years, only lower than 411,415 mt to Singapore in July 2018.

Nearly 3.21 million mt of bituminous thermal was exported through July, up from 1.73 million mt exported in the same period a year ago.

Alberta has shipped 1.12 million mt of thermal coal to South Korea and 612,870 mt to Japan this year, compared with 155,000 mt and 520,159 mt, respectively, in the same period a year earlier. Alberta has also exported 592,472 mt to Singapore and 326,753 mt to Egypt, compared with 772,094 mt and zero last year.

No metallurgical coal produced in July

For the first time in over 12 years, Alberta did not produce any metallurgical coal in July, compared with 116,386 mt in June and 352,150 mt in July 2019.

However, production through the first seven months is at 2.3 million mt, up from 2.24 million mt in the same period a year earlier.

Met exports totaled 147,842 mt in July, compared with 133,998 mt in June and 214,010 mt in July 2019. Exports to Pacific ports rose to 148,842 mt, from 29,693 mt in June, while shipments to Japan and China both fell to 18,015 mt and 12,032 mt in July, respectively, down from 55,544 mt and 23,825 mt in June.

Subbituminous production falls again

Subbituminous coal production at the five mines in the province fell to its lowest level in over 12 years in July with 459,344 mt produced, down from 628,850 mt in June and 834,115 mt in July 2019.

Cumulative production through July is down to 4.63 million mt, from 6.67 million mt in the same period a year ago. It was the lowest production total through the first seven months of a year in over 12 years.