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Powder River Basin Q3 Coal Production Totals 80 Million Short Tons, Up 12% on Quarter



November 2, 2019 - Coal production in the Powder River Basin totaled about 80 million st in the third quarter, up 12% from the previous quarter and down 4.7% from the year-ago quarter, Mine Health and Safety Administration data showed Friday.

Peabody Energy's North Antelope Rochelle mine, the basin's largest mine, produced about 24.2 million st, up 24% from the prior quarter and down 7.3% from Q3 2018.

The second largest mine in the basin, Arch Coal's Black Thunder mine, produced 21.3 million st, up 27.2% from Q2 and up 9.8% from the year-ago quarter. Additionally, this was the first time since Q3 2016 quarterly production from the mine broke above 20 million st.

Output from Cloud Peak and Blackjewel, the two PRB producers who filed for bankruptcy this year, totaled about 14 million st and 1.3 million st, respectively. While Cloud Peak production rose 17.3% quarter on quarter and increased 7.9% from Q3 2018, Blackjewel output dropped 83.5% from Q2 and 86.8% from the year-ago quarter.

Out of all the PRB mines, only the two Blackjewel mines, Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr had production drops quarter on quarter, down 79.5% to 828,744 st and 87.7% to 470,091 st, respectively.

Arch's Coal Creek mine increased the most from the previous quarter, up about 108% to 894,989 st, Kiewit Mining Group's Buckskin mine increased output the most year on year, up 28.2% to about 4.9 million st.

The combined output of North Antelope Rochelle, Black Thunder and Antelope mines, the three mines which produce 8,800 Btu/lb coal in the basin, totaled 65.4% of PRB production with about 52.3 million st. From Q2 production, the mines output jumped 25.7% and from the year-ago quarter production rose 9%.

PRB 8,400 Btu/lb production was 19.9 million st in Q3, down 14.8% from the previous quarter and down 29.8% from the year-ago production.

On a state basis, production from Montana mines, which include Cloud Peaks' Spring Creek mine, Westmoreland's Rosebud and Absaloka mines, and Lighthouse Resources Decker mine, totaled 8.5 million st in Q3, up 26.2% from Q3 and down 1.2% from the year-ago quarter.

The Rosebud mine, which produced about 2.5 million st, jumped 86% from the previous quarter and rose 37.3% from the year-ago quarter.

Output from the Wyoming mines, excluding the three 8,800 Btu/lb mines, totaled 19.2 million st, down 16.9% from Q2 and down 29.3% from the year-ago quarter.