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Coal Summit

A wall of coal towers over a haul truck at the Cordero-Rojo mine in Campbell County in this 2005 file photo.

It has been a bad start to the year for coal companies in Wyoming. The four major firms working in the Powder River Basin each posted losses in the first quarter of 2014. 

The narrative was similar at Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy and Peabody Energy. Bad weather and rail disruptions hindered shipments. Prices were down. And companies shipped less coal during the first three months of the year compared to the first quarter of 2013. 

Still, executives at the four firms expressed optimism over the future. They noted utilities' stockpiles are at their lowest levels in years. Spot prices on Powder River Basin coal are inching upward. Combined, the two developments should see an improvement in the industry's fortunes if not this year then next. 

Today, we're going to look at a brief overview of each of the companies and how they did during the first quarter.    

Alpha Natural Resources

  • Wyoming mines: Belle Ayr, Eagle Butte
  • Q1 revenues 2014, $952 million; Q1 revenues 2013, $1.1 billion
  • Q1 loss 2014, $111 million; Q1 loss 2013, $55.7 million
  • Q1 2014 Powder River Basin shipments, 9.4 million tons; Q1 2013 Powder River Basin shipments, 10 million tons 
  • Q1 2014 Powder River Basin shipments' average price, $12.26 per ton; Q1 2013 Powder River Basin shipments' average price $13.03

Arch Coal

  • Wyoming mines: Black Thunder, Coal Creek
  • Q1 revenues 2014 $736 million, Q1 revenues 2013, $737.4 million
  • Q1 loss 2014, $124 million; Q1 loss 2013, $51.4 million
  • Q1 2014 Powder River Basin shipments, 25.7 million tons; Q1 2013 Powder River Basin shipments, 26.6 million tons
  • Q1 2014 Powder River Basin shipments' average price, $12.73 per ton; Q1 2013 Powder River Basin shipments' average price, $12.68

Cloud Peak Energy 

* Cloud Peak's numbers include the Spring Creek mine in Montana. 

  • Wyoming mines: Antelope, Cordero Rojo,   
  • Q1 revenues 2014 $319 million, Q1 revenues 2013, $338 million
  • Q1 loss 2014, $15.6 million; Q1 gain 2013, $15.4
  • Q1 2014 Powder River Basin shipments, 20.7 million tons; Q1 2013 Powder River Basin shipments, 21.3 million tons
  • Q1 2014 Powder River Basin shipments' average price, $13.02 per ton; Q1 2013 Powder River Basin shipments' average price, $13.09

Peabody Energy

* Peabody's figures are for its mines in the western United States.  Peabody also operates the Kayenta, Lee Ranch and El Segundo mines in Arizona and New Mexico. 

  • Wyoming mines: North Antelope Rochelle, Caballo, Rawhide
  • Q1 revenues 2014 $1.6 billion, Q1 revenues 2013, $1.7 billion
  • Q1 loss 2014, $48.5 million; Q1 gain 2013, $23.4 million 
  • Q1 2014 western U.S. shipments, 41.5 million tons; Q1 2013 Powder River Basin shipments, 37.6 million tons
  • Q1 2014 western U.S. shipments' average price, $16.42 per ton; Q1 2013 western U.S. shipments' average price, $17.04

In other energy news

  • While 2014 is off to a bad start for the coal industry that is not the case for the biggest producer of uranium in Wyoming. Wyoming Business Reports' MJ Clark writes Cameco Corp. saw its profits rise to $108 million in the first three months of the year. The company saw higher prices on its uranium sold, Clark reports.
  • Meanwhile, conversations are pushing for greater protections in the Red Desert, Kelsey Dayton of Wyofile reports. The area is a potential site for natural gas and uranium development, in particular. That story is here.    

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Reach energy reporter Benjamin Storrow at 307-335-5344 or benjamin.storrow@trib.com. Follow him on Twitter @bstorrow

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