Peabody Energy is profiting from increasing demand for coal in China, India and other emerging nations, Chief Executive Gregory Boyce told CNBC Friday.
"We think it’s going to be just a tremendous demand pull from China and India over the next 10 years," he said. "We think that’s going to be for two, three, four decades."
"China right now is having blackouts because they don’t have enough coal to fuel their electricity facilities. They continue to import more and more coal and they continue to look for coal resources across the globe. So we don’t see any signs of that slowing down."
The U.S. burns about one billion tons of coal a year; by comparison, China burns about three billion tons a year. Even with China trying to slow down its economic engine, Boyce expects to see growth continue in the "lower-double-digits for the foreseeable future."
Peabody has a joint venture in South America, has interests in Indonesia and Australia and is looking at Africa. But the major opportunity is in China, where Peabody is working on entering joint ventures, Boyce said.
"We’ve got about four or five opportunities that we’re working on now," he said. "There are no signs China will be closed to us, as long as we recognize that China will continue to own the resource in the ground."
The U.S. is another story, however. "Overall, we are still seeing U.S. electricity demand, and economic activity has not returned to where it was in 2008."
That could change if his and other coal companies are allowed to build more plants and retrofit them later with better technology to block carbon dioxide emissions.
"What we have right now is, people don’t want to build anything," he said.