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Steel shifting to low-quality met coal, Alpha exec says

Keywords: Tags  Alpha Natural Resources, metallurgical coal, Kevin Crutchfield, Stacy Irish

NEW YORK — Steel producers have been shifting to low-quality metallurgical coal to save on raw material costs and boost thinning margins on finished steel sales, according to Alpha Natural Resources Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Kevin Crutchfield.

"What I don’t think anyone has had a good handle on is the long-term effects of the use of lower-rank, lower-quality expansionary blends of coal on a coke battery," Crutchfield said in an interview with AMM sister publication Steel First. "There is undoubtedly some longer-term acceleration or increase of maintenance costs that aren’t frequently highlighted. The same thing is going on in the coal industry as development capital has been severely rationalized."

The Bristol, Va.-based company has metallurgical and thermal coal mine operations in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Its main market is integrated domestic steel production, but it is targeting growth in Asia and South America.

A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Steel First.

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