Total coal Q1 inventory decreased by 414,000 tons to 964,000 tons by the end of March—the lowest inventory levels since 1998. Thermal coal inventory, meanwhile, fell to 875,000 tons. Low-volume Buchanan and Amonate inventory also decreased during the quarter by 153,000 tons, to just 89,000 tons.

CONSOL CEO J. Brett Harvey attributed the outcomes to two reasons. “First, domestic generators took all contracted volumes as they responded to cold weather,” he said. “This was the reverse of what happened in 2012, when record warm temperatures caused domestic generators to push back. And, the 2013 Q1 sales were helped by stronger-than-expected export markets. CONSOL’s mines were able to respond effectively and efficiently to meet these incremental sales.”

CONSOL also witnessed safety violations decrease by more than 5% year-on-year. Most notably, officials added, the Miller Creek complex was awarded seven Sentinels of Safety awards, while the McElroy mine received West Virginia’s the Eustace Frederick Milestones of Safety Award; the Loveridge mine also received a Mountaineer Guardian Safety Award.

After a full inspection, CONSOL also announced further progress at its Blacksville No. 2 mine, as construction seal work is under way by advance teams and pre-shift examinations and regular weekly airway analyses have returned to normal. However, company officials said it remains unclear when full production will resume. After the discovery of water accumulation in several locations, CONSOL Energy received approval to power the rectifiers to de-water these areas; this work is ongoing. The process has met success with the mine reported safe for travel on all haulage tracks.