Coal exports surge to highest level since 1991

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. coal exports reached their highest level in two decades last year as strong demand from Asia and Europe offered an outlet for a fuel that is falling from favor at home.

U.S. Department of Energy data analyzed by The Associated Press reveal that coal exports topped 107 million tons of fuel worth almost $16 billion in 2011. That’s the highest level since 1991, and more than double the export volume from 2006.

Much of the increase went to slake the thirst of power-hungry markets in Asia, where rapid development has sparked what mining company Peabody Energy calls a “global coal super cycle” that heralds renewed interest in the fuel.

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