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Walter Energy Creating 530 Jobs In Alabama

PHILLIP RAWLS

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) â¿¿ Alabama experienced back-to-back days of big economic announcements when Walter Energy Inc. unveiled plans Tuesday to invest $1.2 billion and create 530 jobs in the state.

CEO Walt Scheller and Gov. Robert Bentley said that the Hoover, Ala,.-based company will develop an underground metallurgical coal mine in Tuscaloosa County, a coal terminal at the Port of Mobile, a barge load-out facility in Walker County and a rail spur in Fayette County.

The announcement followed Hyundai's decision Monday to add a third shift at its auto assembly plant in Montgomery, creating nearly 900 jobs.

"It's fantastic to announce that many jobs in 24 hours," Bentley said during a ceremony at the Capitol.

Scheller said about 50 of the Walter Energy jobs will be at the port and the remainder will be in Tuscaloosa, Walker and Fayette counties. He said the jobs will develop over six years. The annual payroll will be about $45 million and the average annual pay and benefits per employee will be $120,000.

"These are jobs that are going to be around for 30 or 40 years," he said.

The CEO said the decision to expand was influenced by the Legislature's recent decision to extend Alabama's tax incentives for new industries to include coal mining operations.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said he expects more bills aimed at creating jobs will pass before the legislative session ends in mid-May. "The recession taught us that we must keep innovating and keep finding ways to give Alabama a competitive edge," he said.

Walter Energy operates coal mines in Alabama, West Virginia, Canada and Wales. It employs 4,400 people, with more than 2,100 of those in Alabama.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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