BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Coal Council has announced that coal production across the state fell during the coronavirus pandemic, wearing on an already declining market.

The Billings Gazette reported that Montana mines produced 15.1 million tons of coal in the first seven months of the year, down 21% compared to the same time last year.

Officials say the pandemic has lowered energy demand and increased the number of people working from home, so coal-fired power plants have burned less.

Council Executive Director Molly Schwend compares the industry's production to levels from 2016, which was a significantly low-demand year when cheap natural gas prices challenged the industry.

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