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MSHA: Central Appalachia Q1 Coal Production Falls to Over 25-Year Low


By Tyler Godwin

May 13, 2020
- Coal mines in Central Appalachia produced over 14.68 million st of coal in the first quarter of 2020, down 6.5% from 15.71 million st in Q4 and the lowest quarterly output in over 25 years, according to data from the US Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The latest quarter was down 22.1% from the year-ago quarter and 27.6% lower than the five-year average for Q1, despite four of the top six mines seeing yearly increases.

The region produced has seen six quarterly decreases in the last seven quarters.

Coronado Global Resources' Buchanan mine produced 1.33 million st in Q1, up from the four-year low 988,264 st in Q4 and 1.24 million st in Q1 2019. The low-volatile metallurgical underground mine, which is located in Buchanan County, Virginia, has been the largest-producing mine in the region since 2013.

In second was Contura Energy's Deep Mine 41, which produced a record-high 519,453 st in Q1, up from 431,466 st in the previous quarter and 368,411 st in the year-ago quarter.

Rounding out the top three was Contura's Workman Creek surface mine, which also produced a record-high 489,405 st in Q1, up from 431,466 st in Q4 and 368,411 st in the year-ago quarter.

Bristol, Tennessee-based Contura had three of the top five producing mines in Q1, of which all three saw record highs.

Just one mine started production for the first time in Q1, which was Contura's Road Fork No. 52 underground mine in Wyoming County, West Virginia, that produced 23,956 st.

The top 21 mines in Central Appalachia all produced over 200,000 st and combined to produce 6.91 million st in Q1, compared with 18 mines that produced over 200,000 st with a combined production total of 5.89 million st and 20 mines that produced 7.26 million st in the year-ago quarter.

Contura Energy remained the largest coal producer in the region with its 26 mines producing 4.06 million st in Q1, up from 3.72 million st in the prior quarter and 3.83 million st in the year-ago quarter.

Blackhawk Mining was the second-largest CAPP coal producer in Q1 with its 20 mines producing 2.37 million st, down from 2.6 million st in Q4 and 3.51 million st in Q1 2019.

Surface Production Down, Underground Production Up

Surface mine production in Central Appalachia was at 5.15 million st in Q1, down from 6.97 million st produced in the prior quarter and 7.96 million st in Q1 2019.

Contura's Workman Creek mine was the largest surface mine in Q1, which overtook Arch Coal's (soon to be renamed Arch Resources) Holden No. 22 mine.

Since Q3 2015, Arch's Holden No. 22 mine had been the largest surface mine, but only produced 420,451 st in Q1, down from 531,511 st in Q4 and 474,730 st in Q1 2019.

The remaining 9.54 million st was produced by underground mines in Q1, led by the Buchanan mine, which was up from 8.74 million st produced in Q4, but down from 10.87 million st in the year-ago quarter.