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Factories shuttered amid the worldwide economic lockdown have put global coal usage on track to fall to its lowest level in more than 70 years, with prices touching a four-year low.
The plunge has been especially pronounced in Europe, where the U.K. recently went a record-breaking 24 days without using any coal at all.
In April, the Netherlands took in just 1.7 metric tons, 44 percent less than the same month a year earlier. Germany’s intake was down 74 percent, Italy’s 55 percent, and Spain’s 58 percent.
The price of benchmark Australian high-quality coal slipped from $68 per metric ton to $51 during the month. Dirtier Indonesian coal, widely used in China, was selling at about $24 per metric ton, down 20 percent from the previous month.
China has begun to restrict imports in order to protect prices for its domestic coal industry.
Coal use will decline 8 percent during 2020, the sharpest drop since World War II, according to the International Energy Agency, which also sees “coal use declining in every sector in every region of the world.”

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