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America’s Largest Coal Operators Finally Feel Some Relief


Demand growth and lower costs are improving the outlook in the Powder River Basin

When the prospects for coal dimmed to their lowest point in 2016, the large western operators felt the negative impact just like their counterparts in the East, except on a much larger scale. A total of 16 mines spread across the Powder River Basin (PRB) in Wyoming and Montana produced 313.6 million tons last year, which amounts to about 42% of total U.S. coal production (738 million tons). Production from this group dropped 85 million tons (21%) from 398.6 million tons in 2015, which had already decreased 5% or 19.5 million tons between 2014 and 2015.

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