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COAL INDUSTRY : EUROPEAN COAL INDUSTRY LOSING STEAM.

The European coal industry association EURACOAL has issued its market report for 2009 indicating the extent of the downturn in the sector. The sector's depression reflects the global crisis with only two light points, China and India, pushing demand. European price levels were only partially cushioned by China's transition from being a net coal exporter in 2008 (+8 million tonnes) to a net importer in 2009 (+52 Mt).

EURACOAL notes a bleak outlook for the coming years. Low gas prices and increasing amounts of electricity from renewable sources will keep demand weak for imported coal in Europe and in the US. The coal industry has to fight hard against its negative image as the worst emitter in terms of CO2. Gas is generally considered to emit 50% of the CO2 emissions from coal. "Steam coal prices are still relatively high and are not expected to become competitive to gas in Europe in the short term. Gas is set to remain at attractive price levels into 2010," notes EUROCOAL's market report.

The European coal industry's domestic hard coal production thus fell to 67.4 Mt over the first half of 2009, compared to 78.6 Mt in the same period in 2008. Hard coal imports, including coke, were down to 94.3 Mt (from 103.6 Mt) and lignite production down to 203.6 Mt, from 206.6 Mt. Key EU countries dampened demand and production. In Germany, for example, total hard coal consumption for the first three quarters of 2009 fell by 22% due mainly to lower demand from the power sector. Germany's domestic hard coal production fell, too, by 25% following further mine closures leaving the EU's economic motor with only six operating mines. France also saw coal consumption decrease by 16% in the first eight months of 2009.

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Publication:Europe Energy
Article Type:Industry overview
Date:Dec 16, 2009
Words:300
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