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FAIRBANKS - Usibelli Coal Mine of Healy has shipped 73,000 metric tons of coal to Chile, an order that followed two years of test shipments.
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Steve Denton, vice president of business development, said three Chilean customers ordered at least one test shipment of Usibelli coal since 2004. An order shipped last month is considered a regular order.
"There is a fine line between a test shipment and a normal shipment, but it is safe to say we have moved beyond the test phase," Denton said.
Properties of coal vary by mine and testing is necessary, Denton said.
"Customers have to test the coal to be sure it will work with their facility," Denton said. "Typically, companies will order one or two test shipments before ordering a regular shipment."
Coal from the Usibelli mine is desirable because it has a low sulfur content, Denton said. However, it also has a higher moisture content than some other coal.
"That means more of our coal would have to be burned to create the same amount of heat as, say, coal from Australia," he said.
Denton said customers in Chile have the option to purchase more coal but there are no confirmed future shipments.
Under a three-year contract, Usibelli also ships coal to South Korea at a rate of 500,000 tons per year.
"We're at the end of the first year of that agreement," Denton said.
Usibelli has sold coal to South Korea since 1985.