Coal use production rose in 2010

Coal production in the U.S. increased to 1,085.3 million short tons in 2010, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). U.S. coal consumption increased in all sectors except commercial and institutional (formerly commercial and residential), while coal stocks fell slightly.

Overall coal production increased by 1 percent in 2010. The Interior and Western regions increased production by 7.4 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively, while the Appalachian Region decreased 2.1 percent. An increase in Interior Region production was boosted by a 6.5 million short ton increase in Texas production. The Interior and Western regions produced 10.8 million short tons and 6.6 million short tons, respectively, in 2010.

Improvements in the U.S. economy led to an increase in the use of coal, along with a cold winter and warm summer in coal-consuming regions. Total coal consumption increased by 5.1 percent from 2009 levels to 1,048.3 million short tons. Coal-fired generation increased by 42 million short tons in the electric power sector and by 13.9 percent in all other sectors.

Coal prices per short ton for the electric power sector rose by 1.4 percent and by 3.9 percent for independent power producers to $41.49 per short ton. Coking coal prices increased 7.4 percent to an average price of $153.59 per short ton while prices for the industrial sector decreased by 1percent. U.S. export prices for metallurgical coal rose by 23.5 percent in 2010, while exports for U.S. steam coal decreased 11 percent. The average price of imported coal rose by 12.3 percent. Coal prices at electric utilities increased to $45.09 per short ton, the 10th consecutive year it increased.

Total U.S. exports of coal in 2010 increased by 38.3 percent to 81.7 million short tons, largely due to heavy rains and flooding in Australia, Indonesia and Columbia and a shortage of coal in China and India. U.S. coke exports increased by 11.9 percent to a total of 1.5 million shorttons of coal in 2010. Mexico received 510 thousand short tons while Canada received 400 thousand short tons. The average price of coal exports increased to $120.41 per short ton.

In 2010, coal imports represented 1.9 percent of total U.S. coal use, a decrease of 3.3 million short tons to 19.4 million short tons. The U.S. imports a majority of its coal, 75 percent, from Columbia.

Total coal stocks were 224.3 million short tons, a decrease of 8.7 million short tons from 2009. Industrial users, including coke plants, held a total of 6.4 million short tons at the end of the year. Coal stocks in the electric power sector decreased to 175.2 million short tons, 7.5 percent below 2009 numbers.

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