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US Thermal Coal Imports Fall to Over 10-Year Low in April



By Tyler Godwin

June 5, 2020 - US coal imports totaled a 10-year low 121,259 mt in April, down 42.9% from March and 71.5% lower than the year-ago month, according to US Census Bureau data published June 4.

Year-to-date thermal imports are at 921,836 mt, down 50.1% from the first four months of 2019.

Coal imports from Colombia tumbled to over a 10-year low 33,274 mt in the latest month, down 74.7% from March and 90.8% lower than the year-ago month.

Despite the overall lower imports, US coal imports from Indonesia rose to 59,955 mt in April, up 14.4% from March and 11.4% higher than a year ago.

It was the first time since February 2014 that more coal was shipped to the US from Indonesia than Colombia.

Year-to-date imports from Colombia are at 555,733 mt, down 64% from the first four months of 2019, while Indonesian imports are down 3.1% on the year at 226,335 mt.

The majority of the coal imports from Colombia, or 420,648 mt, have gone through Mobile, Alabama, this year, while Tampa, Florida, has received 97,589 mt. All of the Indonesian coal was shipped to Hawaii.

The remaining imports in April came from China, at 16,331 mt, and Canada, at 11,699 mt, compared with 18,279 mt and 9,791 mt, respectively, in March. In the year-ago month, the US imported 262 mt from China and 8,722 mt from Canada.

The US has imported 57,818 mt of coal from China in the first four months of 2020 and 33,560 mt from Canada, compared with 4,832 mt and 34,660 mt, respectively, a year ago.

Most of the coal from China, or 48,236 mt, was shipped to New Orleans, while 25,764 of the Canadian coal has gone through Pembina, North Dakota.

An additional 47,869 mt of Russian coal was shipped to the US this year, with all of it going through Mobile, Alabama, compared with none in the first four months of 2019. However, 29,926 mt was shipped through New Orleans.