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Forum to focus on benefits of W.Va. coal exports

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. (AP) -- The overseas market for U.S. coal is growing, and industry experts are gathering in West Virginia to talk about its importance.

The West Virginia Coal Forum is Thursday afternoon at West Liberty University's Highland Energy Center.

Speakers include officials with the West Virginia Coal Association, the CEO of United Coal and West Virginia Division of Energy director Jeff Herholdt.

The state Division of Commerce said West Virginia coal exports grew by 40 percent last year, increasing from $5.3 billion in 2011 to $7.4 billion in 2012.

Coal mined in West Virginia accounted for 49 percent of total U.S. exports in 2012.

The National Mining Association says exported coal supports U.S. jobs and has a beneficial impact on hundreds of millions of people in the developing world.