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Who’s to Blame for America’s Met Coal Bust? For One, the Aussies

Australia is exporting more met coal.
This met coal has collapsed.

This met coal has collapsed.

Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Walter Energy Inc., an Alabama-based coal miner, filed for bankruptcy Wednesday in what’s just the latest development in the collapse of U.S. metallurgical coal.

A combination of missteps and just plain bad luck has plagued U.S. producers of met coal -- which is used to make coke, an ingredient in steelmaking -- for four years now, leaving big names such as Alpha Natural Resources Inc. and Arch Coal Inc. in distress. The New York Stock Exchange suspended trading in Alpha Natural on Thursday, after doing the same to Walter Energy last week.