The big bright spot for U.S. coal miners is located halfway around the world. India almost tripled its imports of the rock from America in the first quarter from a year earlier, helping fuel its fast-growing economy and making it the largest foreign buyer of U.S. coal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The South Asian nation is extending a lifeline to U.S. miners who are struggling to find buyers at home as cheap natural gas and renewable energy continue to force coal-fired power plants into retirement. Miners are increasingly relying on overseas sales to maintain — or at least slow the decline in — production levels.
The U.S. may export 104 million tons of coal in 2018, up 7.2 percent from a year ago, the EIA forecast in its July Short-Term Energy Outlook published Tuesday.
Through April, India had brought in almost 7 million tons, approaching a fifth of all U.S. exports of the fossil fuel. The next largest customers included South Korea, Japan, Brazil and the Netherlands. Read More