By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
The Alabama State Port Authority announced Monday its McDuffie Coal Terminal has set a new record for tonnage loaded and exported from the Port of Mobile in one shipment.
The NSU Welfare, a massive Newcastle Max class bulk carrier was filled with 132,883.5 metric tons of metallurgical coal bound for Asian markets where it will be used to make steel and other products. That’s the most ever loaded into a single coal shipment, Port Authority officials said.
Metallurgical coal is one of the port’s top exports. Alabama’s coal resources are in demand for their key use in forging various metals.
Port Authority officials also credited ongoing efforts to expand the shipping channel and improve the port for the increased capabilities for larger ships and shipments.
“We’re striving to match terminal improvements with our channel expansion,” said Bernard Scott, manager of the McDuffie Coal Terminal. “Our focus shore-side will be in new equipment, equipment upgrades and yard management to accommodate the anticipated export coal needs of our customers.”
The Port Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently signed an agreement to deepen and widen the shipping channel into the Port of Mobile. The $8.3 million project, long championed by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., will deepen the existing Bar, Bay and River Channels to 52 feet, 50 feet and 50, respectively.
While the channel project has received a lot of fanfare, most people might not know about the harbor improvements taking place alongside it.
“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,” said Rick Scott, deputy director and chief operating officer for the Port Authority.
Those improvements make bringing in bigger ships with greater capacity a reality, he said.