Coal Miners See Busy Year Thanks to Cold Weather

FOR the coal industry, 1994 is off to a prodigious start. With record-low temperatures gripping the Midwest and East, utilities have struggled to keep up. The National Coal Association (NCA) projects that the demand for coal will continue through 1994, driven by utilities' sharply reduced stocks and their need for steam coal.

Coal production in 1994 will increase nearly 8 percent from 1993 levels, to a record of 1.03 billion tons, says the NCA. Production in the East will increase 10.6 percent, to 605 million tons, adds Richard Lawson, NCA president. Production in the West will go up 4.4 percent, to 428 million tons, he says.

The amount of coal consumed in the United States will go up in 1994, mostly because utilities are burning more of it. But the rate of production will exceed total domestic consumption, as utilities try to replace stockpiles now at historical lows, and as producers rebuild some of their own stocks. Utilities account for 89 percent of the coal consumed in the US, the NCA reports.

Utilities are expected to burn about 824 million tons of coal in 1994, 15 million tons more than 1993. But the NCA says the coal industry's market share will drop slightly because of an expected increase in generation from oil and gas. The NCA estimates for 1994 show no increase in overall industrial use of energy, reflecting the effects of conservation and efficiency programs.

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