Houston — Coal production in Alberta, Canada, fell to a more than 12-year low 677,891 mt in February, down 47.1% from 1.28 million mt in January and 62.5% below the 1.81 million mt in the year-ago month, Alberta Energy Regulator data showed April 16.
It was the province's lowest output on record, according to AER data that goes back to 2009, while the 47.1% monthly decline was also the sharpest drop in more than 12 years.
Bituminous thermal coal output dropped to a near six-year-low 100,726 mt in February, down from 778,352 mt in January and 551,150 mt in the year-ago month. It was the lowest corresponding month for bituminous thermal coal production in more than 13 years
For the seventh straight month, all of the bituminous thermal coal came from Coalspur Mines Ltd's Vista thermal mine, which is owned by the Cline Group and based in Hinton. The mine produced 483,355 mt in February 2020.
Coalspur, which first started production in February 2019, produced 8.47 million mt in 2020, nearly tripling the 2019 output of 3.04 million mt.
For the eighth time in the last 10 months, Alberta's other bituminous thermal mine — Coal Valley, owned by Westmoreland Mining Holdings — did not produce any coal in February.
Throughout February, bituminous thermal coal production totaled 879,078 mt, down from 1.2 million mt in the same period a year earlier. In 2020, the two mines produced 9.42 million mt, up 26.2% from 2019 levels and the highest in more than 12 years, according to AER data.
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, a 23-month low 179,812 mt of bituminous thermal coal was exported from Alberta in February, down from 546,637 mt in January and 292,261 mt in February 2020. It was the lowest exports in a month since 168,826 mt in March 2019.
Chile was shipped 145,132 mt in February, down from 174,818 mt in January and zero in February 2020. Roughly 73,130 mt of thermal coal went to South Korea in February, up from zero in January, but down from 143,000 mt in the year-ago month, while a five-month-low 68,385 mt were shipped to Japan, down from 325,235 mt in the prior month, but up from zero in February 2020. Roughly 120,606 mt of the exports that were shipped to Pacific ports were not included in the February total.
Through February, about 726,449 mt of bituminous thermal coal was exported, up from 494,559 mt a year earlier and the most through the first two months of a year in over 13 years. In 2020, the province exported 5.46 million mt of bituminous thermal coal, up from 3.63 million mt a year earlier.
Subbituminous production climbs on month
Subbituminous coal production at the five mines in the province rose to 577,165 mt in February, up from 502,149 mt in January, but down from 703,130 mt in February 2020. It was the lowest amount of subbituminous coal produced in the corresponding month in more than 13 years.
Cumulative subbituminous production through February is at 1.08 million mt, down from 1.51 million mt in the same period a year earlier and the lowest through the first two months of a year in more than 13 years. In 2020, Alberta produced a 12-year low 7.8 million mt of subbituminous coal, down from 12.67 million mt in 2019.