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Met coal exports reach $2 billion in 2018

Jessica Ballard

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In 2018, 11 million tons of Alabama-mined met coal was exported to global steelmakers, which totaled $2 billion worth of the coal being shipped through the Port of Mobile. This high dollar amount has not been recorded in recent history.

The Alabama Coal Association released statistics on Tuesday detailing met coal exports for 2018 that showed the dollar impact that the met coal industry is having on the state. Met coal exports accounted for 70 percent of Alabama’s total coal production in 2018, according to the statistics.

President of the Alabama Coal Association, Patrick Cagle, said met coal is quietly helping fuel Alabama’s economy.

“The industry’s impact is irreplaceable — from the thousands of high-paying jobs at underground met coal mines in the Tuscaloosa and Jefferson County area to generating almost half the revenue at Alabama’s Port,” Cagle said.

Met coal, also referred to as coking coal, is rarer than steam coal, and Alabama’s met coal exports compete with coking coal mined in Australia.

The Alabama met coal industry and the Port of Mobile both benefit from their partnership, as coal is an integral economic driver for the port, and the McDuffie Coal Terminal generates approximately 50 percent of the total annual revenue earned by the Alabama State Port Authority by using the port.

“Alabama export coal is vitally important to the port’s and the state’s economy,” said James K. Lyons, director and chief executive officer for the Alabama State Port Authority. “We’ve invested over $150 million in shoreside infrastructure at our McDuffie Coal Terminal to support our mining industry, and we are working hard to modernize the harbor to keep our mining companies competitive with overseas coal mines.”

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