.S. coal production declined slightly in 2007 on weak demand from utilities
The latest federal figures show U.S. coal production dipped slightly this year.The 1.4 per cent decline hit Appalachian states such as Virginia and Kentucky the hardest, while production in the West is essentially flat, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.EIA data shows year-to-date production in Virginia was down 10.2 per cent compared with the same period of 2006, to 25.8 million tons as of the week ending Dec. 15. In Kentucky, production was down 5.2 per cent to 110.8 million tons.Across Appalachia, production dipped 3.6 per cent to 364.6 million tons.West Virginia, the second-largest U.S. coal producer, showed a slight increase of 0.9 per cent to 148.2 million tons. Northern West Virginia mines increased output during the period 4.1 per cent to 42.6 million tons. Output from southern West Virginia's coalfields dipped 0.4 per cent to 105.5 million.In Wyoming, the biggest U.S. producer, production is up 1.6 per cent to 433.1 million tons.Coal producers faced weak demand from electric utilities and stagnant prices for much of the year. More recently, however, international demand for coal used to generate electricity and to make coke for steel manufacturers has spurred exports, particularly to Europe and South America.EIA data shows coal exports up 11.1 per cent to 14.7 million tons through June. Major U.S. producers such as Richmond-based Massey Energy Co. have responded with plans to boost production, particularly of metallurgical-grade coal.
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