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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn last week released a new report that forecasts continued growth for the state's export coal industry due to large reserves, competitive prices, and access to prime water and land transportation routes.Illinois coal output increased last year despite overall shrinking U.S. production because global demand for the state's coal soared, said Quinn in a press release. Illinois exported a record 13 million tons of coal in 2012, a five-fold increase compared with 2010.The state's coal was shipped to 18 countries in 2011 and 2012, according to the report. Illinois is now the fifth-largest coal producing state, up from ninth in 2009, and has the nation's largest reserves of bituminous steam coal.The report and its recommendations support the state's five-year-plan to double coal exports by 2014, Quinn said."We have the resources and infrastructure to take advantage of this [demand] opportunity for economic growth," said Quinn. "Our rail lines and river ports, which we continue to improve under the Illinois Jobs Now capital construction program, give us a unique export advantage over other states in the region."Coal can be carried by rail or barge to the Gulf of Mexico, then loaded onto vessels for overseas sales, said Quinn.For example, American Milling Co.'s new $13.6 million coal terminal facilities at the Port of Cahokia, Ill., will be able to transfer up to 10 million tons of coal from rail to barges for export through New Orleans, he said. The state provided $1 million for the project.
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