Some U.S. Coal Producers Shave Costs

By Christopher Coats and Garrett Devine, SNL Energy

Production costs for a handful of U.S. coal producers declined in 2014, but some Illinois Basin producers actually reported higher costs, according to a cost-of-coal-sales-per-ton analysis by SNL Energy. After a dramatic rise in the cost of coal sales per ton from 2009 to 2012, increasing an average of 38.9% for the period, the industry saw costs level out in 2013, with a few producers continuing to benefit from cost-cutting measures in 2014.

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Illinois Basin 2014 Coal Production Stays Flat

By Ariel Valdez and Christopher Coats, SNL Energy

Production at the largest active coal mines in the Illinois Basin declined slightly in the fourth quarter of 2014 from the previous quarter, but full-year 2014 production was 4.6% higher than the previous year, reflecting continued strong demand for coal from the region. Output at the 25 most productive mines in the region slipped from 26.8 million tons in the third quarter to 26.4 million tons in the fourth quarter, ending the year with 104.9 million tons, up about 4.6 million tons from 2013 to 2014, according to U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data analyzed by SNL Energy.

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Coal Production Finishes Year Strong as Challenging 2015 Looms

By Jesse Gilbert and Steve Piper, SNL Energy

December 2014 coal markets were mixed on the month, with eastern coal caught in the rout that has broadly affected energy commodities on slowing global economic growth and weak winter demand.

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Northern Appalachian Operators Report Increased Production

A total of 12 mines in Northern Appalachia cranked out more than 1 million tons of coal each in the third quarter, helping boost production from the region, and more than half of those mines are held by one company that dramatically increased its footprint in the basin late in 2013.

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Gas Burn in Dual-fuel Units Declines in Favor of Coal, but Not All RTOs Revert

By Neil Powell

U.S. power generating units with co-firing or dual-switching capabilities experienced a decline in total gas burn of nearly 22% in 2013 year-over-year, but despite rising gas prices, some RTOs continued their reliance on gas instead of coal. Natural gas prices plummeted in 2012, enabling gas to take an unprecedented portion of the nation’s fuel mix. Co-fired and dual-switching units that were configured to burn gas were able to take advantage of this windfall. Aggregate gas burn for co-fired or dual switching units in 2012 was at the highest level over the past five years, with coal burn at its lowest within the same time period, according to SNL Energy data.

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