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US coal exports surge in August, higher met coal exports to China

US coal exports totaled 7.78 million mt in August, up 19.4% from July and up 71.4% from the year-ago month, US Census data showed.

It was the highest monthly total since June 2014.

For January-August, US coal exports totaled 54.3 million mt, up 63.3% compared with the same period last year. On an annualized basis, they would total 81.4 million mt, which would be up 49% from the 54.7 million mt exported in 2016.

The surge is being driven by higher demand for both metallurgical and thermal coal, as seaborne prices continue to support export opportunities for US producers.

Premium low-vol met coal FOB Australia has averaged $182.46/mt for the year to date, compared with $103.15/mt during the year-ago period, while Platts CIF ARA assessment for thermal coal delivered into Northern Europe, basis 6,000 kcal/kg NAR, has averaged $81.92/mt compared with $51.73/mt during the same period last year.

August met coal exports totaled 4.7 million mt, up 22.9% from July and up 35.7% from the year-ago month. It was the highest monthly total since March 2015.

For January-August, met coal exports totaled 31.78 million mt, up 32.4% from the same period last year, and would total 47.7 million mt on an annualized basis.

Top met coal export destinations in August were India, which imported 606,785 mt compared with 151,842 mt in the year-ago month; China, which imported 513,844 mt compared with 72,148 mt last year; and Brazil, which imported 482,200 mt compared with 559,937 mt last year.

China’s intake of US met coal in August was the highest since May 2013, and totaled more the combined full-year exports in 2015 (206,962 mt) and 2016 (183,887 mt).

For the January-August period, the largest importer of US met coal was Brazil at 4.2 million mt, followed by Japan at 3 million mt and India at 2.3 million mt.

Bituminous coal exports in August totaled 2.33 million mt, up 15.9% from July and up 174.2% from last year. January-August bituminous coal exports totaled 17.15 million mt, up 134.4% from the year-ago period, and would total 25.7 million mt on an annualized basis.

Top destinations for US bituminous coal in August were the Netherlands, which imported 624,656 mt, compared with 299,597 mt last year; India, at 586,531 mt compared with a trivial amount last year; and Egypt, which imported 253,288 mt compared with nothing last year.

For the January-August period, the largest importer of US bituminous coal was the Netherlands at 4 million mt, followed by India at 3.3 million mt and Japan at 1.3 million mt.

Subbituminous coal exports from the US totaled 637,773 mt in August, up 3.3% from July and up 510.7% from the year-ago month.

For the January-August period, subbituminous coal exports total 4.97 million mt, up 301% from the year-ago period, and would total 7.5 million mt on an annualized basis.

The top importer of US subbituminous coal in August was South Korea, at 453,310 mt compared with zero last year; followed by Mexico at 163,581 mt compared with 103,698 mt last year; and Senegal at 20,882 mt compared with nothing last year.

For January-August, the largest importer of US subbituminous coal was South Korea at 2.5 million mt, followed by Mexico at 1.45 million mt and Morocco at 432,616 mt.
Source: Platts

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