US coal boss Robert Murray: Trump 'can't bring jobs back'

After a surge in coal prices in the second half of 2016, both thermal and metallurgical coal have declined sharply this year, but around $80 and $150 a tonne respectively, the seaborne market is still trading well above recent multi-year lows.

After missing out on the rally in seaborne coal last year thanks to a very small presence in export markets, prices achieved by US miners have been playing catch-up.

Hopes of a revival for the industry thanks to changes to the regulatory environment by the Trump administration have seen Central Appalachian coal (Nymex FOB)  jump nearly 40% to $51.60 a short ton year from decade lows hit in October. Coal from the Powder River basin has also improved, jumping to $11.45, from the $8.25 low hit hit in September.

Murray is confident Trump will follow through with campaign plans to reinvigorate the coal industry

Coal production in the US has fallen dramatically over the past few years and today's higher prices may not translate into a reversal of this trend. American coal production in 2016 was 746m tonnes, down from over a 1B tons in 2014 according to EIA estimates. Coal consumption fell over the same period from 917m to 737m tons, while coal exports nearly halved to 58m tons.

Robert Murray founder and chief executive of Murray Energy, the largest privately held coal mining company tells the Guardian newspaper he's "confident Trump will follow through with campaign plans to reinvigorate the coal industry," by repealing the previous administration's  "fraudulent" green energy policies.

However, says Murray, the US coal industry does "not have a climate change or global warming problem, we have an energy cost problem” and warned President Trump whom he met in February to “temper” expectations about a boom in mining jobs:

Trump has consistently pledged to restore mining jobs, but many of those jobs were lost to technology rather than regulation and to competition from natural gas and renewables, which makes it unlikely that he can do much to significantly grow the number of jobs in the industry, said Murray.

“I suggested that he temper his expectations. Those are my exact words,” said Murray. “He can’t bring them back.”

Continue reading at The Guardian