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US Coal Market News and Analysis

With its combined 229 BMT of combined bituminous and subbituminous coal (end-2013), the United States is the world's second-largest coal producer. Yet it accounted for only 2% of global steam coal exports (22MMT) in 2015. IHS Markit expects this percentage will drop even further by 2040, with the United States playing a minor role in supplying growing Asian demand.

US coal suppliers – while sitting on abundant reserves – lack export competitiveness for a multiplicity of reasons. The country's subbituminous coal reserves, which sit mainly in the Powder River Basin (PRB), cannot compete with Indonesian exports, which benefit from the rupiah's lower value relative to the dollar. IHS Markit expects US subbituminous exports will drop through the decade and that any growth would stem from plants in Asia wishing to reduce their dependency on Russia and Indonesia. US bituminous coal is located in four key basins: Northern Appalachia, Central/Southern Appalachia, Illinois Basin and Western Utah/Colorado. Of these, only Northern Appalachia poses some export potential for met coal, while only the Illinois Basin – once the great hope for steam coal exports – harbors a glimmer of hope for future thermal coal exports. Recently, Illinois Basin suppliers have suffered from the combination of an appreciated US.dollar and rivalry from petcoke.

In addition to a challenging export future, US coal suppliers face an uphill battle at home. Stringent domestic regulation – notably the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, which is set to kick in by 2022 – along with competing low gas prices, environmental group opposition, the utilities inability to cut inventory, and tax incentives for renewables paint a depressed outlook for US coal for the foreseeable future. IHS Markit coal director Jim Thompson has described the drop in US coal production, down 32.3% from a comparable period in 2015, as the most remarkable production adjustment in the history of the US coal industry. With most of the large publicly traded coal companies having declared bankruptcy, industry rationalization and reorganization will continue apace. IHS Markit is tracking how the industry as a whole is responding to this restructuring and which companies and coal regions will be well situated to capitalize on any market rebound.

You can find the US coal market data, news and insight through the Coal and Energy Price Report and the US Coal Review. Available through our North American Coal Market News & Analysis service, these two reports provide:

  • Key price indices:.
    • US East Coast FOB (6,000kc NAR)
    • US Gulf High Sulphur FOB (6,000kc NAR)
    • US Coal (Nymex/PRB/N.App/Illinois Basin), Rail, Crude, Natural Gas (Henry Hub) and emissions pricing – updated every day
    • Utility price markers (ILB, C.App, N.App, Western, PRB, Eastern Rail)
    • Key physical prices (Colombian)
  • US import and export statistics for metallurgical, steam and petcoke
  • US production and consumption data for metallurgical, steam and petcoke
  • Analysis of major producers, producing regions, transportation costs, infrastructure, policy
  • Analysis of the latest US coal market news: briefs, tenders, stocks, contracts

Visit our North American Coal Market News & Analysis service to see the latest reports.


Jim Thompson

He is conversant on worldwide market trends, with a focus on the North American coal markets. Mr. Thompson provides expertise both in thermal coal for electricity production and metallurgical coal for use in the steelmaking process. He is widely quoted by leading financial newspapers and speaks at multiple, industry-related conferences. He has more than two decades of experience in providing analysis and insight on coal markets for coal producers and consumers, as well as for financial analysts and investors.​ Mr. Thompson co-founded Energy Publishing, which was acquired by IHS Markit in 2013, and is now part of IHS Markit. He graduated from Dallas Baptist University.​​

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Scott Dendy

He was instrumental in designing, developing and launching the McCloskey/Xinhua Infolink South China CFR 5,500kc marker as well as API8, API5 and API3 (in conjunction with Argus Media) for IHS Markit. He has overseen the rapid uptake in traded derivative volumes based against IHS Markit's McCloskey Indonesian Sub-bituminous FOB marker. His role demands a good understanding of trading, both in physical and derivative/futures markets, from how they work to how they are developed, launched and adopted. He is also the managing editor of International Nuclear Business from IHS Markit. Previously, Mr. Dendy was the editor of UK Powerfocus for The McCloskey Group, where he closely followed the UK's New Electricity Trading Agreements (NETA). He worked on a number of European power modeling projects for Power Ink Limited, where he also co-edited a quarterly UK power generation report for Financial Times Energy.  During the early 2000s, Mr. Dendy worked within the Power Development division of the international engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald. Before that, he worked at the energy purchasing consultancy John Hall Associates. He has more than 17 years of experience in covering energy-related traded markets. Mr. Dendy has a Master's Degree in History from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom.

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Bob Hodge

He leads a team of writers who report daily on the US coal industry, assessing coal prices, production, transportation and coal-fired power generation. He has more than a decade of years of experience in research and writing about both thermal and metallurgical coal markets in America, as well as legislative and regulatory issues that impact the coal industry. Mr. Hodge is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, US.

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