Interest in processing projects returns
The worst may have passed for the coal processing sector. The good news is that two new plants were added to the U.S. Prep Plant Census in 2017. Another encouraging sign is that the engineering firms that design and build these plants have noticed a renewed interest in projects. The recent shake-out in the coal business led to a few more plants being listed as idle this year, while a few older idled plants were removed after it was confirmed that they were scrapped.
The total number of U.S. prep plants dropped from 252 to 248 and the number of idled plants increased from 59 to 61. The census lists 17 anthracite plants in Pennsylvania. The total number of operating plants washing bituminous coal has now dropped to 170. West Virginia remains the leader with 70 plants (29% are idle), followed by Kentucky (52, 38% idle), and Pennsylvania (22 bituminous and two idle). Virginia and Ohio have 19 and 18 prep plants, respectively, with only a few idle.