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Rail shipments of coal continue to slump

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World Coal,

Shipments of coal by rail fell by 34.1% y/y to 71 221 carloads in the week ending 12 March, according to figures from the Association of American Railroads, continuing the depressed levels of coal shipments seen through the first months of 2016.

Weekly coal carloads. Source: Association of American Railroads.

The weekly figure also marked a new 2016 low for coal carloads, beating the previous week’s record by 0.6%. Overall US rail shipments were 12.9% down on the same period last year at 2.44 million carloads.

Coal shipments have been hit by falling demand for coal, a result of mild winter weather and competition from natural gas, exacerbated by high stockpiles at US power plants. The US Energy Information Administration forecasts coal consumption in the electric power sector to fall 29 million short t in 2016 as natural gas overtakes coal as the primary fuel source in the US energy mix.

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