A presence in the world’s financial center for coal, said Alpha officials is essential “to build an export platform for U.S. thermal coal that has long-term potential,” said Chief Commercial Officer Brian Sullivan, “as we continue direct customer contact.”

The move, he added, shows commitment to supplying the broadest portfolio of Central Appalachia’s high quality coal possible continent-wide while complementing established metallurgical coal sales.

Nick Ingham, Alpha’s vice president of international hedging, sales and marketing, has been tapped to lead the new office, added company officials. An ex-thermal coal trader, Ingham has held various roles with European utilities since 2000 and holds a Staffordshire University business degree.

Alpha Natural Resources Inc. is one of the largest diversified coal suppliers in the U.S. With operations in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Wyoming, Alpha supplies met coal for steel and thermal coal for power to customers across five continents.