US coal prices surge to highest levels in more than 10 years
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in price spikes for a number of natural resources including coal. Russia had accounted for about 18 percent of global exports of coal in 2020. Sanctions against coal, oil and natural gas have followed the invasion and sent prices soaring. In the United States, coal prices topped $100 a ton for the first time in 13 years.
Prices for coal from Central Appalachia surged 9 percent to $106.15 a ton in the first week of April, the highest since late 2008, according to government data. Prices in the Illinois Basin rose to $109.55, topping $100 for the first time in records dating to 2005. The war in Ukraine is exacerbating a surge in demand that began last year as a global economic recovery from pandemic drove up electricity consumption.
“The energy fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could last for a while,” Michelle Bloodworth, chief executive officer of America’s Power, a coal-power trade group, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Coal is going to be needed for the foreseeable future.”
While U.S. power producers have been shifting away from coal, consumption actually climbed last year as prices also increased for natural gas. More costly fossil fuels come as U.S. consumers already face the highest inflation in four decades. Americans are paying higher utility bills, food prices are surging and housing costs are up.
Prices in Central Appalachia and the Illinois basin are rising more than in other U.S. coal-producing regions because they have easier access to international markets. U.S. exports climbed 23 percent last year and are expected to increase another 3.3 percent this year as miners take advantage of record international prices.