In 2011, U.S. coal production increased to 1.094 billion short tons. That is an increase of 0.9% over 2010 levels. This is the third straight year that U.S. coal production has increased.
However, U.S. coal consumption decreased in 2011. Coal consumption in the electric power sector in 2011 was lower, primarily because of warmer winter temperatures in the U.S, and from strong competition in the natural gas market.
The U.S. consumption decrease was offset by rising coal exports to Asia and Europe. U.S. coal exports were up in 2011 because of supply disruptions in Australia, Indonesia and Colombia. More than half of all U.S. coal exports went to Europe because South Africa is shifting steam coal exports from Europe to Asia, and because Russia and Colombia were having limited capacity to meet the European demand.
Exports to South Korea, China, Japan and India accounted for 25% of all coal exports. Japan uses coal for electricity generation and steel maufacturing. Japan's coal use increased after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011. U.S. exports of metallurgical coal accounted for 65% of all coal exports last year: 18 million short tons of metallurgical coal were sold overseas at an average price of $181 per ton.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA, 2012).
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