ByDeborah Austin Despite turbulence in the steel industry -- a heavy user of coke and coking coal -- demand for such coal has remained stable, suggests a recent study from management consulting firm Hill & Associates Inc., Annapolis, Md. But high prices, large overseas inventories, and depleted U.S. inventories have led to instability in Atlantic basin coal markets. Coal use in all metallurgical applications is forecast to grow from 185.7 million metric tons per year in 2000 to 200.7 million by 2010, reports the study, "The Outlook for International Coal Trade: Demand, Supply & Prices to 2010." Among other study observations, growth appears strong in the pulverized coal injection sector, increasing from 30.7 million metric tons in 2000 to 41 million over the decade. Meanwhile international demand for thermal coal -- used primarily by utilities and industry to create steam -- is expected to grow by about 24%, from 359 million metric tons to 445.5 million in 2010. Japan, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, and the U.S. likely will lead in thermal coal import growth, says the study.