According to a press release, the Alabama State Port Authority finalized today its purchase of two industrial properties on the Mobile River owned by Walter Energy, Inc.
The $25,000,000 purchase includes a 35-plus acre tract fronting the seaport’s 45-ft. draft channel and a 63-plus acre industrial tract a half-mile from the harbor.
The details are identical to the terms that were disclosed when negotiations of the sale were first announced in May. Both properties in the purchase are adjacent to the Port Authority’s Choctaw Point Complex at the Port of Mobile.
In May, ASPA Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Lyons said those properties wouldn’t be used for coal processing or handling. However, the Port Authority did agree to amend the terms in its coal handling agreement, which would increase the amount of coal processed for Walter Energy at ASPA’s McDuffie Coal Terminal.
The Port Authority extended the existing coal handling agreement and agreed to certain improvements to accommodate future export coal production at Walter Energy’s Alabama mines. That increase includes coal that will eventually be produced at the company’s Blue Creek Mine in Tuscaloosa County, which is still under construction.
In the press release, Lyons praised the deal, saying it was “representing a good opportunity for both companies to further our [sic] respective long-term business strategies.”
Lyons noted the land purchases as essential to the Authority’s intermodal investment strategies geared toward expanding its container business. He said the riverfront tract would support much needed expansion land for its rapidly growing container terminal, while the industrial tract would provide additional acreage to support warehousing, distribution and light manufacturing applications.
When discussions of sale first surfaced to the public, Lyons said the new coal-handling agreement wouldn’t increase the amount of coal stored on McDuffie Island, but could increase the annual amount of coal that moves through the facility by 3-4 million tons.
At the time of sale’s disclosure, the Mobile City Council was only four days from deciding whether to permit Walter Energy to build a coal processing facility on the same property — a decision that was appealed to the council by several concerned residents and business owners in the downtown and midtown areas after it was approved by the Mobile Planning Commission.