US coal miner Patriot Coal Corp. (NYSE: PCX) said this morning that it was closing three of its contractor-operated coal mines and two production units in West Virginia “in response to weaker market demand for metallurgical coal.” The announcement has pushed shares down about -10%. Met coal miners Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: ANR) and James River Coal Corp. (NASDAQ: JRCC) are also getting hit, as are steel makers Arcelor Mittal (NYSE: MT), US Steel Corp. (NYSE: X), and AK Steel Holding Corp. (NYSE: AKS), which use metallurgical coal to make steel.
Patriot Coal officials said demand for met coal has weakened in the last few weeks, especially export demand. Demand from China, the world’s largest importer of met coal, is expected to remain weak through the first half of the year, although demand is expected to rise in the second half as Chinese and European economies begin to grow again. Total consumption of met coal could fall by 13 million metric tons in 2012.
In the late morning, Patriot Coal shares are down more than -9% at $8.18 in a 52-week range of $6.92-$29.20.
Shares in Alpha are down nearly -8% at $20.76 in a 52-week range of $15.49-$62.65.
James River shares are down more than -8% at $6.77 in a 52-week range of $5.41-$25.59.
Steel maker Arcelor Mittal is down nearly -2%, while US Steel and AK Steel are both down about -3%.