Peabody Energy, the largest U.S. coal producer, said it is hoping to ship 24 million tons of thermal coal per year from a new shipping terminal in Washington state in an effort to raise U.S. coal exports by a third from current levels. The U.S. exported 81.5 million tons of coal last year, according to industry estimates.
Missouri-based Peabody (BTU) could use the new terminal to ship coal from the Powder River Basin to key Asian markets. Construction of the terminal is expected to begin in 2013 with the first coal shipments expected in 2015, according to MarketWatch.
U.S. coal miners are looking to boost exports amid rising prices and soaring demand from Chinese and Indian steelmakers, among other buyers. Peabody estimates that the market for subbituminous coal in the Pacific Rim is expected to increase to 250 million metric tons by 2015, up from about 140 million metric tons now, MarketWatch reported.
U.S. coal exports fell in 2009 during the financial crisis, but have increased as the global recovery has quickened. Flooding in Australia and soaring Chinese demand have also been positive catalysts for U.S. coal exports in recent months.