Coal Mine Expansions in U.S. Can't Match Global Shortfall

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U.S. coal production has room to grow, but expansion is unlikely to meet surging world demand because miners fear a boom-bust cycle, key reserves are declining, and regulation has tightened.

U.S. coal production has room to grow, but expansion is unlikely to meet surging world demand because miners fear a boom-bust cycle, key reserves are declining, and regulation has tightened.

Despite soaring prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has cut projections of U.S. output rather than raised them, and now foresees a total of 1.166 billion short tons by 2010, barely up from a record 1.163 billion in 2006.

That is not enough to overcome what some coal officials see as a shortage of 25 million to 35 million tons this year in the 6-billion-ton world market and a shortfall of perhaps 70 million tons next year.

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