Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mining industry is economic bright spot

Attendance at MINExpo here in Las Vegas is an indication of strong demand and high prices for many mineral commodities. It appears to me that every square foot of exhibit space has been taken by vendors in the endless LV Convention Center.

At yesterday's opening session, coal was center stage at the National Mining Association's panel on the state of the industry.

The forecast is for 1.2 billion tons of U.S. coal production in 2008, up from 1 billion tons in 2006. Exports of coal are expected to triple to 85 million tons. One coal company rep who stopped by the State Geologists (AASG) booth, told me that a lot of it is going to China, which relies on coal for 80% of its electric generation.

It was noted that the U.S. has 27% of the world's coal reserves, an amount roughly equal to Saudi Arabia's share of world oil reserves or Russia's share of world natural gas.

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