The Alabama State Port Authority set another export coal shipment record loading 146,479 short tons — or 132,883.5 metric tons — at its McDuffie Coal Terminal.
The coal was loaded to the Newcastle Max class bulk carrier, NSU WELFARE, which matches the previous record bulk ship to call the port measuring 984.2 feet in length overall, known as LOA, with a width of 164.3 feet.
All the cargo loaded at McDuffie consisted of Alabama metallurgical grade coal bound for Asian markets.
Rick Clark, deputy director and chief operating officer for the Port Authority, noted the increased Newcastle Max calls match increasing Post-Panamax vessel calls into Mobile, in part due to ongoing infrastructure investments.
“We’re not only deepening the channel to -50 ft. draft, we are also investing in shore-side infrastructure at McDuffie to improve throughput efficiencies and expand export capacity,” the authority said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Port Authority recently signed the project agreement to let channel construction contracts by year-end 2020. The USACE awarded the first of six contracts to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company LLC on Sept. 28, 2020.
The $8.3 million contract will construct to -50 feet approximately two miles of channel including the port’s entrance.
The harbor improvements along with the Port Authority’s planned multi-phase, $45 million capital improvement program at McDuffie are oriented toward meeting increasing vessel size and projected shipper demand.
Bernard Scott, manager of McDuffie Terminal, noted, “We’re striving to match terminal improvements with our channel expansion. Our focus shore-side will be in new equipment, equipment upgrades and yard management to accommodate the anticipated export coal needs of our customers.”
Alabama’s metallurgical coal market is in demand and on the upswing with nearly $1.4 billion in recent or planned mining investments. Alabama’s low sulfur, high quality coking coal is ideally suited for steelmakers.
Currently, Alabama holds about 4 billion tons of economically recoverable coal reserves, with 80 percent of those reserves comprised of metallurgical grade coal, according to a 2019 Auburn University at Montgomery economic impact study
The Alabama State Port Authority owns and operates the state of Alabama’s deep-water port facilities at the Port of Mobile and its public facilities handle more than 26 million tons of cargo annually.
The authority’s container, general cargo and bulk facilities have immediate access to two interstate systems, five Class 1 railroads, and nearly 15,000 miles of inland waterway connections.