The United States is a net exporter of coal
The United States exports more coal to other countries than it imports from other countries. The United states imports and exports steam coal and metallurgical coal. Steam coal can be used for electricity generation, and metallurgical coal can be used for steel production. In 2021, steam coal accounted for 84% of total U.S. coal imports, and metallurgical coal accounted for about 53% of total U.S. coal exports.
U.S. coal imports
Although the United States produces most of the coal that it consumes, it imports coal to meet some domestic demand. For example, coal-burning power plants along the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Ocean sometimes find it cheaper to import coal from other countries than to obtain coal from U.S. coal-producing regions.
U.S. total annual coal imports reached a record high of about 36.4 million short tons (MMst) in 2007. In 2021, the United States imported about 5.4 MMst of coal, which was equal to about 1% of U.S. coal consumption in 2021.
In 2021, the United States imported coal from 10 countries, and nearly all of U.S. coal imports in 2021 were from five countries.
- The top five source countries of U.S. coal imports, the amount imported—in million short tons (MMst)—and their percentage shares of total U.S. coal imports in 2021 were:
- Colombia 3.37 MMst 62%
- Canada 1.04 MMst 19%
- Indonesia 0.49 MMst 9%
- Russia 0.34 MMst 6%
- China 0.12 MMst 2%
U.S. coal exports
U.S. coal exports reached a record high of 125.7 MMst in 2012, equal to 12% of U.S. coal production. In 2021, the United States exported about 85.2 MMst of coal—equal to about 15% of U.S. coal production—to 83 countries, and 58% of U.S. coal exports went to five countries.
- The top five destinations of U.S. coal exports, the amount exported—in million short tons (MMst)—and their percentage shares of total coal exports in 2021 were:
- India 15.36 MMst 18%
- China 12.81 MMst 15%
- Japan 7.57 MMst 9%
- The Netherlands 7.14 MMst 8%
- South Korea 6.38 MMst 7%
Last updated: June 8, 2022, with most recent annual data available at the time of update; data for 2021 are preliminary.