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Top Coal Importing Country in the World

In this article, we will take a look at the Top Coal Importing Country in the World. We have also compiled a full free list of the Top 20 Coal Importing Countries in the World.

Coal is one of the most commonly used fossil fuels all over the world with its uses ranging from electricity generation to steel making. Despite understanding its adverse implications for the environment, its importance does not seem to be decreasing. The global coal mining market was valued at $648.04 billion in 2023, and it is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.6% to reach a valuation of $795.76 billion by the year 2032.

While some countries recognize that a change needs to be made, others still heavily rely on it as their main source of energy generation due to its lower cost. A single metric ton of coal can produce up to 2,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity. In comparison, natural gas can only produce 99 kWh per 1,000 cubic feet, and a barrel of fuel oil can produce up to 578 kWh - explaining the heightened coal demand in 2022, wherein, it hit the 8 billion tons mark.

Coal power accounts for 37% of the world’s electricity production or the equivalent of 44,000 terawatt-hours of electricity. Along with this, as discussed earlier, steelmaking takes up a lot of metallurgical coal, which has higher levels of carbon than thermal coal. Around 1 billion tons of annual coal usage consists of metallurgical coal, while thermal coal makes up the other 7 billion, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).


The generating capacity of coal-fired power plants has doubled over the past two decades, as reported by Carbon Brief. But it is interesting to note that these plants are majorly in Asia and the majority of it is consumed in parts of Europe and North America. According to the World Economic Forum, China accounts for almost 54% of the world's coal consumption. It operates more than 1,100 coal-fired power plants that produce around 82 exajoules of energy. India comes in second place and produces 17.5 exajoules of energy. Far behind China though, India is responsible for 11% of global coal consumption. The U.S. accounts for 6.1% of the world’s coal consumption, followed by Japan, South Africa, Russia, and Indonesia.

While the US does not top the list of coal consumers, it holds the position as the country with the most coal. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are “an estimated 252 billion short tons of coal” available in the U.S., which is about 22% of the world’s remaining supply. Although the U.S. has the largest coal reserves, it isn’t the leader in coal production. It only produces 640 million tons per year. China on the other hand produces up to 3.7 billion tons. These high levels of production stem from countries' higher reliance on coal for power generation.

So which companies operate and own coal reserves, especially in the US, given the sheer capacity the country holds? Some of the top controlling companies are Peabody Energy Corp (NYSE:BTU), and Arch Resources, Inc. (NYSE:ARCH). Peabody Energy Corp (NYSE:BTU) is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, and is focused on the mining and selling of coal. In 2022, the company was responsible for 17.2% of the total coal production in the US and produced 101,929 thousand short tons in the year. Being the biggest coal producer in the country, it comes as no shock that the company reported a net income of $760 million in 2023.

On the other hand, Arch Resources, Inc. (NYSE:ARCH) which is the second largest coal supplier in America behind Peabody Energy Corp (NYSE:BTU), produced 78,364 thousand short tons of coal in the year 2022. These high levels of coal supplied by Arch Resources, Inc. (NYSE:ARCH) accounted for 13.2% of the total coal production by the US, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The company, however, was unable to match Peabody’s financial performance and reported a revenue of $774 million in the same year.

Also see:11 Best Coal Mining Stocks To Invest In and 25 Countries with the Largest Coal Reserves in the World.

Top Coal Importing Country in the World
Top Coal Importing Country in the World

A coal miner surrounded by piles of bentonite and Leonardite in a mine.


For the purpose of this ranking, we obtained data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on the coal imports per country in the year 2022. The figures represent the total coal imports which include all five types of coal i.e. anthracite, metallurgical, bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite. Once we had the data on the imports for each country, we arranged it in descending order and picked the top country with the highest level of imports.

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Is China the Top Coal Importing Country in the World?

Coal Imports in 2022: 345,488.69 thousand short tons

China reported a record-high import of 474.42 million tons of coal in 2023 and it is projected that this trajectory is going to continue in 2024 with the expectations lying between 450 and 500 million tons, according to S&P Global.

With this, China is placed at the top position in our list of Top 20 Coal Importing Countries in the World.

This is on the back of China’s coal consumption, which is also expected to be at an all-time high and grow at a rate of 4% in 2024, which is higher than the average annual growth of nearly 3% since 2021.

You can see the full free list by going to the Top 20 Coal Importing Countries in the World.

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READ NEXT: Top 20 Coal Exporting Countries in the World and 11 Best Coal Mining Stocks To Invest In.

Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.