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The Powder River Basin currently represents approximately 50% of the US’s total coal production and the reserves are massive. The key to accessing the Asian export market is port capacity. The US west coast currently supplies only 8Mtpa of Asia’s total thermal coal demand of 550Mtpa. Current port capacity restricts any further growth.

In 2009, coal accounted for 28% of global energy use and generated 42% of the world’s electricity. Japan is the world’s largest coal importer (182 million tons in 2009), South Korea imported 110 million tons and Taiwan imported 65 million tons. Asia’s thermal coal demand is forecast (Wood Mackenzie) to increase by 560Mtpa over the next 10 years. The US can only participate in this phenomenal growth if new port capacity comes on stream. (Ambre Energy)