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The Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon handled 2.5 million tons of cargo in fourth-quarter 2016, breaking its previous quarterly record set in fourth-quarter 2014, port officials announced last week.The port's Q4 2016 volume was 44 percent higher than the previous record, and is the highest quarterly volume for any port in Ports of Indiana history, according to a Ports of Indiana press release.The port finished 2016 with 6.4 million tons, up 34 percent from its previous five-year average and its second highest annual tonnage following the record 6.6 million tons in 2015. The principal cargoes last year were coal, grain, soy products, ethanol, dried distiller grains, minerals and fertilizer. In addition, salt shipments rose 32 percent, while talc and barite — two minerals used in the manufacturing of plastics and other products —were up a combined 23 percent."Coal shipments surged during the fourth quarter giving 2016 the highest annual coal tonnage in the port's history," said Port Director Phil Wilzbacher. "Alliance Coal seized an opportunity to ship coal from its Southern Indiana and Illinois mines through its port terminal to export markets, contributing significantly to the record fourth quarter."Two port companies announced or completed major expansions last year. Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. announced it would invest more than $31 million to increase its soybean processing capabilities. Valero Renewable Fuels Co., a major Indiana producer of ethanol and a subsidiary of Valero Energy Corp. completed a multi-million dollar project that provided new corn receiving equipment and a new distiller grain dryer system.
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