A two-volume study, Coal Demand and Price Projection, completed by GRI (Chicago) and Hill & Associates, Inc. (Annapolis, MD), details two trends that the coal industry will face in the coming years: declines in price and projected use.

The study concludes that after 2015, total coal use will decline to 1,101 million tons from 1,123 million tons, due to stricter EPA restrictions. Real coal price is projected to decline from $15.79 to $12.62 per ton between 1998 and 2020 due in part to improved productivity, slow demand growth, and an increase in the market share of low-cost Western coals.

Other findings include the importance of opening new mines on coal availability; the increase of Western low-sulfur coal on total U.S. coal production from 52% to 55% by 2005 at the expense of Eastern coal supplies; the shakeup of the major railroads and their impact on transportation; increased environmental restrictions on sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and fine particulate emissions; and a drop off in coal exports.