Companies in this industry develop coal mine sites, extract coal from surface and underground mines, prepare coal for use, and provide support activities for coal mining. Major companies include Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy, and Peabody Energy (all based in the US), as well as Anglo American (UK), BHP Billiton (dually headquartered in the UK and Australia), Coal India Limited (CIL, India), and China National Coal Group and ShenHua Group (China).
Demand comes mainly from generators of electricity. Profitability depends on efficient operations, as coal is a commodity sold on the basis of price. Big companies have significant economies of scale in production and distribution. Small companies can compete if they hold long-term contracts or if they supply local customers. The US industry is concentrated: the top four companies account for about 50% of sales.
Products, Operations & Technology
The US industry's primary products, bituminous coal, sub-bituminous coal, and lignite, account for about 75% of revenue. Support services account for about 25% of industry revenue.