By Brandon Moseley and Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Governor Robert Bentley announced Tuesday that Walter Energy, Inc., will soon build a new underground coal mine in Tuscaloosa County. The new project will create more than 500 new jobs in four Alabama counties. This announcement follows the recent approval of incentives that were designed to help create new economic opportunities for the people of Alabama in the coal mining industry.
Walter Energy, Inc., will develop a new underground metallurgical coal mine in Tuscaloosa County, build a coal terminal at the Port of Mobile, build a barge load-out facility in Walker County, and a new rail spur in Fayette County. The Blue Creek Energy Project is bringing an estimated $1.2 billion capital investment and 530 full-time jobs with an average estimated annual payroll of $45 million and an average estimated annual salary of $120,000 (including benefits) per employee.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said, “Today’s announcement by Walter Energy represents a significant and long-term investment in the State of Alabama and our local communities. This is a perfect example of how development incentives lead to new jobs and new opportunities for people across the state. I appreciate Walter Energy’s continued commitment to Alabama with this project.”
Walter Energy made the decision to come to Alabama after the state legislature passed, and Governor Bentley signed, House Bill 144. HB144 provided economic incentives to the coal mining industry. The bill was sponsored by State Representative Bill Roberts (R) from Jasper in the Alabama House and by Senator Greg Reed (R) from Jasper in the Alabama House.
Sen. Reed said, “Many counties in our state have rich deposits of coal, including those in my district. HB144 will allow coal mining operations to increase access to those deposits, which requires the hard work of Alabama workers. More coal means more jobs, and that’s what we’re focused on in the Alabama Senate.”
Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) from Anniston said “I am excited about the agreement on House Bill 144.” It is going to immediately create up to 500 jobs in Alabama. “This session is all about job creation.” “I am just excited this is just an example of what we told the people we were going to do and that is create jobs.”
Chief Executive Officer of Walter Energy Walt Scheller said, “Walter Energy would like to thank Governor Robert Bentley and his team at the Alabama Department of Commerce for their leadership and continued support of this very important project. We would also like to thank members of the Alabama Legislature, especially House Speaker Mike Hubbard, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, Representative Bill Roberts and Senator Greg Reed, who worked tirelessly to pass House Bill 144, which played a major role in our decision to move forward with this project.”
The terminal at the port of Mobile will be open in two years but the mine itself will not be operational until 2018.
To read Governor Bentley’s announcement in its entirety: