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Elected officials, business leaders tour Alabama’s seaport

Charlie Walker

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Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, along with representatives of the Alabama Coal Association and Manufacture Alabama were accompanied by other maritime affiliates on a tour of the Alabama Port Authority’s McDuffie Coal Terminal and its state-of-the-art container terminal. The group, on Thursday, was briefed on the course of operations, investments and necessary seaport infrastructure that would have Alabama coal producers competing globally in the metallurgical coal market.

“Approximately 80 percent of Alabama’s coal production is comprised of high-quality metallurgical coal, an essential ingredient in the global production of steel,” said Patrick Cagle, president of the Alabama Coal Association.

During the 2018 fiscal year, the McDuffie Terminal handled a cumulative 13.6 million tons of coal, which represents a 25 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. Of that amount, Alabama’s export of metallurgical coal represents over 10 million tons, a value of 1.5 billion dollars.

“McDuffie Terminal is the primary export point for Alabama mined metallurgical coal,” said Jimmy Lyons, director and chief executive officer of the Alabama State Port Authority.  “With over $1 billion dollars invested in the port and another $200 million in improvements underway, we seek to keep pace with our seaport competitors in the United States. One of the critical initiatives we are addressing is the modernization of our ship channel. Improvements to this channel will ensure Alabama’s place amongst the nation’s leading ports as well as ensure cost competitive infrastructure for Alabama businesses.” 

Senator Reed visited the port in representation of three major metallurgical coal production counties: Tuscaloosa, Jefferson and Walker Counties. “Coal is a critical part of my district’s economy and directly employs over 4,000 Alabamians, many of which are my constituents,” said Reed. “Most folks do not realize the starting salary of an underground Alabama coal miner is approximately $85,000 per year. Both coal producers and workers rely on our state’s only seaport to cost competitively reach global steel production markets.”

Other legislators who visited the Port include Senators Greg Albritton and Clay Scofield, and state Representative Randall Shedd. They traveled to see first-hand the infrastructure needs deemed critical to Alabama shippers in their home district. Also in attendance were representatives from Warrior Met Coal, Drummond Co. and Parker Towing.

The Alabama State Port Authority owns and/or operates the public deep-water port facilities at Alabama’s only seaport handling over 25 million tons of cargo last year. Currently, Alabama’s seaport is ranked 10th largest of the nation’s sixty deepwater seaports. The Authority’s container, general cargo and bulk facilities have direct access to two interstate highway systems, five Class 1 railroads, and nearly 15,000 miles of inland waterway.  Learn more at www.asdd.com.

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