Peabody Energy, the largest privately held coal company in the world, experienced it’s third straight quarter of sizable profits with revenue totaling $1.48 billion this quarter - a 22% increase from last year’s third quarter. Total profit this fiscal year adds up to around $500 million.
Peabody Energy went into bankruptcy in 2016, weighed down by billions in debt partially due an investment made in Australian metallurgical coal. In 2015, the company also saw $2 billion in losses. This past April, the company came out of bankruptcy.
James Stevenson, Director of Global Coal at IHS Markit, a company that provides market analysis, said Peabody’s success mirrors a upswing in coal right now. For several years, the resource’s inventory has been overburdened without a demand to match. Not to mention, natural gas and wind power became increasingly competitive, stealing some of coal’s thunder in electricity generation.
"I think we’ve gotten back to something of a sweet spot in terms of the market being closer to balance where producers are able to sell coal and make money doing so,” Stevenson said.
He elaborated there’s an increasingly viable international market for US coal exports, in China, Japan, and India for example. The demand is matched with competitive pricing as well.
Still, Stevenson said, coal’s use for power generation is still in decline.
“Our long-term expectation is still that coal use for power generation in America will decline, and that’s by far the biggest buyer of US produced coal,” he said.
Peabody Energy’s largest coal mine, the North Antelope Rochelle Mine, is located in the Powder River Basin in Northeastern Wyoming.