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MSH: Powder River Basin Q4 2019 Output Totals 72.3 Million ST, Reaches New Low

February 4, 2020
- Coal production in the Powder River Basin totaled over 72.3 million st in the fourth quarter, down 9.6% from the previous quarter and down 13.8% from the year-ago quarter, Mine Health and Safety Administration data showed Monday.

Annual production totaled over 294 million st, down 9.3% year on year and the lowest since S&P Global Platts data began in 2003. It was also the first time since that same point PRB output dropped below 300 million st.

Peabody Energy's North Antelope Rochelle mine, the basin's largest mine, produced about 21.4 million st in Q4, down 11.7% from the prior quarter and down 13% from the year-ago quarter. Annually, production was over 85.3 million st, down 13.2% from its 2018 production.


The second largest mine in the basin, Arch's Black Thunder mine, produced nearly 17.6 million st in the final quarter of the year and about 72 million st throughout 2019. Fourth quarter production dropped 17.4% from Q3 and dropped slightly 0.1% from the year-ago quarter. Annual production rose 1.2% from the prior year.

Cloud Peak's Antelope mine produced about 6.3 million st in Q4, down 8.1% from Q3 and increased 7.7% year on year.

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 62.5% of total PRB production with about 45.2 million st.

For the year, PRB 8,800 Btu/lb production totaled nearly 181 million st, down 6.3% from 2018, and produced 61.4% of annual production from the basin.

Total PRB 8,400 Btu/lb production totaled almost 21.1 million st in Q4. On an annual basis, production for the lower heat content coal totaled over 88.2 million st, declining 14.1% year on year.

Montana, Wyoming Results

Production from Montana mines, which include Cloud Peaks' Spring Creek mine, Westmoreland's Rosebud and Absaloka mines, and Lighthouse Resources Decker mine, totaled about 6.1 million st in Q4, down 28.7% from Q3 and down 29.6% from the year-ago quarter.

For the year Montana coal production totaled about 27.2 million st, down 11.7% from 2018.

Output from the Wyoming mines, excluding the three 8,800 Btu/lb mines, totaled 21.1 million st, up 9.8% from Q3 and down 22.9% from the year-ago quarter. Production totaled over 86.5 million st for the year, down 14.3% from the year prior.

Kiewit Mining's Buckskin mine had the largest quarterly output with 4.3 million st, down 11.3% from the previous quarter and up 3.1% from the year-ago quarter. Annually, production totaled 17.6 million st, up 30.5% year on year.

BlackJewel's Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines produced 2.3 million st and 1.9 million st, respectively in Q4. Eagle Butte's output jumped 178% from the prior quarter and dropped 50.9% from the year-ago quarter, while Belle Ayr climbed 300% from the previous quarter and fell 63.4% from the year-ago quarter.

On an annual basis, Eagle Butte produced 11.6 million st, down 31.8% year on year, while Belle Ayr produced 10.2 million st, down 44.7%.