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The world’s largest coal producer, Peabody Energy is at risk of going bankrupt for the second time in five years. It’s all a function of the demand for coal, especially now during the coronavirus. But the potential trouble is indicative of something much bigger — the transition from coal to natural gas and renewables.

The future of thermal coal used to make electricity is not bright. But metallurgical coal has a role in the production of steel. And this is where Peabody and others like Arch Resources are placing their bets. “Met” coal is used to make 70% of the world’s steel and once the pandemic subsides, economic growth will resume.

And therein is the potential path forward for President-elect Biden and a possible Republican-dominated U.S. Senate: building better bridges, ports and transmission systems is a good thing that enjoys wide support.

“Suffice to say, we’ve had a tough year here,” Peabody’s chief executive Glenn Kellow said on a conference call recently. ”Market conditions have and continue to severely impact customer demand … The combined risks associated with our recent financial results, market conditions, additional collateral demands and potential credit agreement non-compliance raise substantial doubt about . . . our ability to continue as a going concern.”

Peabody told investors on Monday that it had lost $67 million in the third quarter while coal sales fell by 23%. Meantime, revenues from the sales of met coal used to make steel fell by more than 63%. However, Kellow says that he is optimistic that this segment will pick back up — at some unknown point in time.