By St. Louis Business Journal

Arch Coal Inc. said Tuesday it signed an agreement with Canadian Crown Corp. Ridley Terminals Inc., a coal and other bulk commodity marine terminal located near Prince Rupert, British Columbia, to facilitate coal exports to Pacific Rim markets.

Located on Ridley Island, the deal cuts Archâ¿¿s sailing time to Asia by more than one day compared with Vancouver, and nearly three days compared with Long Beach, Calif.

The five-year agreement will give Arch throughput capacity at the terminal of up to 2 million metric tons of coal for 2011 and up to 2.5 million metric tons of coal for 2012 through 2015, the St. Louis-based coal company said.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

⿿This transaction is another important step in accomplishing our strategic objective of expanding Powder River Basin coal sales into the Asia-Pacific region,⿝ said Steven Leer, Arch's chairman and chief executive, in a statement. "This throughput agreement gives us direct, immediate access to the growing seaborne thermal market. It also complements our recently announced investment in the Millennium Bulk Terminal in Longview, Wash., and other continuing terminal negotiations.⿝

Last week, Arch said it acquired a 38 percent interest in Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview, LLC, the owner of a bulk commodity terminal near Longview, Wash., for $25 million, also with the goal of increasing exports to Asia.

Arch Coal Inc. is the second largest U.S. coal producer, fueling roughly 8 percent of the nation's electricity.

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