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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Arch preps for West Coast coal exports; Alderon readies rail capacity for Canadian iron ore project


Arch Coal Inc. recently acquired a 38 percent stake in Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview L.L.C. (MBT), which owns a bulk commodity terminal on the Columbia River near Longview, Wash.

Arch Coal plans to use the terminal to facilitate export coal shipments from the West Coast, beginning in 2012. A former aluminum smelter plant now operated as a bulk commodity facility, the terminal will be converted to accommodate coal, alumina and cementitious material shipments.

The terminal is served by BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad, which will “provide Arch with the flexibility to export its southern Powder River Basin and Western Bituminous Region coals, and eventually coal from its recently acquired Montana reserves,” Arch Coal officials said in a prepared statement.

"This transaction gives us a direct stake in participating in the growth of U.S. coal exports off the West Coast," said Arch Coal Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steven Leer, adding that the company could accommodate growing demand in Asia — the world's largest and fastest-growing coal market.

Meanwhile, Canadian iron ore exploration and development firm Alderon recently explored rail and port services in Labrador and Quebec to support a proposed iron-ore mining project.

Alderon officials have initiated talks with Iron Ore Co. of Canada representatives about using the firm’s Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway (QNS&L) for regular daily train service. They also approached Port of Sept-Iles, Quebec, representatives about accessing a soon-to-be-built deepwater multi-user facility.

The company likely will need to lease or purchase locomotives and rail cars that would be operated by QNS&L, plus pay for any required sidings, Alderon officials said in a prepared statement.