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US East Coast thermal coal exports rise in August: Census

Thermal coal exports out of the US East Coast rose slightly in August to 719,518 mt, from 716,435 mt in July, despite exports out of Norfolk, Virginia, falling to a four-month low, according to US Census Bureau data.

Exports from the Baltimore Census district increased to 508,626 mt in August, up from 415,065 mt in July, but down from 533,408 mt in the year-ago month, according to the data released Oct. 6. However, exports out of the Norfolk Census district declined to a four-month low 210,892 mt, down from 301,370 mt in July, but up from 189,366 mt in August 2019.

The majority of the exports from Baltimore, or 378,568 mt, went to India, up from 75,000 mt in July and 210,900 mt in the year-ago month. It was the most NAPP coal shipped to India from Baltimore since 435,458 mt in April. An additional 130,000 mt of thermal coal went to the Dominican Republic in August, down from 180,000 mt in July.

In August, 70,000 mt of coal was shipped to Morocco from Norfolk, while 60,000 mt went to the Dominican Republic, compared with 65,000 mt and zero in July, respectively. Another 35,088 mt and 33,857 mt went to Brazil and the Netherlands in August, respectively, down from 53,606 mt and 40,348 mt in the previous month.

Cumulative exports out of Baltimore through the first eight months of the year are at 5.27 million mt, down from 7.26 million mt, while exports through August from Norfolk are up on the year at 2.29 million mt, from 1.81 million mt a year earlier.

According to a September report from Norfolk-based shipping agency T. Parker Host, Consol Coal Resources exported 365,427 mt of Northern Appalachia coal in August, compared with zero in July. Coal marketers Xcoal and Javelin Commodities exported 254,728 mt and 199,711 mt of thermal coal off the East Coast, respectively, compared with 124,631 mt and 77,744 mt in July, according to the report.

Despite volumes increasing from Baltimore to India in August, freight rates rose to an eight-month high during the month. Freight rates for a panamax ship going from the East Coast to India averaged $29.16/mt in August, according to S&P Global Platts, up from $28.09/mt in July, but down from $34.08/mt in the year-ago month. It was the highest monthly average since $30.23/mt in December 2019.
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