The number of coal mines idled in the first half of 2014 slowed compared to second half of 2013, due in part to cold winter weather in early 2014 providing support for a rise in prompt month prices for both Powder River Basin and Central Appalachia coal. Although the total number of mines idled in the first half of 2014 was only 64 — compared to 112 in the second half of 2013 — Appalachian mines again shouldered most of the burden.
According to production data from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, mines idled in the first half of 2014 produced a combined 2 million tons of coal in the 12 months ended June 30, 2014. Among the mines idled during the period, surface mines were the most impacted, with 51 idled, followed by 11 underground mines and two mine facilities.
Unsurprisingly, Central Appalachia experienced the largest number of mines idled during the first half of 2014 at 38. The region continues to be assaulted from all sides as generators turn to cheaper coal from other basins, metallurgical coal prices remain depressed despite production cuts, and decreasing coal seam thickness hampers production.
The Central Appalachian mines idled for the period accounted for almost 76% of all coal production from idled mines.
Northern Appalachia was a distant second, with 23 mines idled during the period that were responsible for 292,594 tons of coal produced for the 12 months ended June 30, 2014. While coal from the region has become more sought after due to its lower cost, Northern Appalachia still faces difficulties due to its abundance of met coal deposits.
By state, Kentucky experienced the largest number of idled mines in the first half of 2014 with 21 of the 64 total mines idled during the period located within the state. Although Kentucky experienced the most closures, impacted production was relatively small, with only one mine producing over 100,000 tons for the 12 months ended June 30, 2014.
Keep reading the full report and analysis here: http://www.snl.com/InteractiveX/Article.aspx?cdid=A-28910871-11566
(Fred Pace is the Editor for the Coal Valley News. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 304-369-1165, or on Twitter @fcpace62)