Walter Energy (NYSE: WLT), a leading U.S. producer and exporter of premium coking coal for the global steel industry, announced that it has started longwall production at its Mine No. 7 East expansion.

The $175 million expansion, begun in 2005, is expected to generate approximately 2.0 million tons of incremental production in 2010 and up to 3.5 million tons in 2012. The additional production will increase Walter Energy's rated capacity for premium coking coal to approximately 9.5 million tons in 2012. The footprint of the expansion is approximately 19.5 square miles and has sufficient reserves for approximately 20 years of production.

Our Mine No. 7 produces some of the highest quality coking coal in the world. The expansion of the mine to an annual capacity in excess of 6 million tons makes it the largest low-vol hard coking coal mine in North America and the expansion is ideally timed to meet expected growth in demand for premium, low-vol hard coking coal, said Victor P. Patrick, chief executive officer of Walter Energy.

About Walter Energy

Walter Energy is a leading U.S. producer and exporter of premium coking coal for the global steel industry and also produces steam coal and industrial coal, metallurgical coke and coal bed methane gas. The Company has revenues of approximately $1.2 billion and employs approximately 2,100 people.