Drummond Company

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Drummond Company, Inc. is a privately-owned coal-mining and processing company with its headquarters on U.S. Highway 78 in Jasper and corporate offices on Beacon Parkway. It was founded in 1935 by Heman Drummond. The company, which netted an estimated $2 billion in profits in 2006, employs 5,100 in operations in Alabama and Columbia. The current CEO is Mike Tracey and Mike Drummond is chairman of the board of directors.

Drummond operates Alabama's largest coal mine, the Shoal Creek Mine near Adger as well as the La Loma mine in the Cesar department in northern Colombia. Both mines produce bituminous coal. Shoal Creek's coal is processed on site and delivered under long-term contract to Alabama Power by barges on the Black Warrior River. Coal from La Loma, which opened in 1995 and now represents about half of that county's coal exports, is conveyed by train to the Caribbean Sea and sold on the global market.

Drummond also operates the ABC Coke plant, which processes coal into foundry coke used in casting operations, and Perry Supply, a mining and industrial equipment supplier.

In addition to its industrial activities, Drummond Company is involved in land management and real-estate development, primarily through joint ventures in Florida, California and Alabama. Drummond partnered with Torchmark in the development of Liberty Park, now part of Vestavia Hills.

History

Heman Drummond

Heman Drummond began a small drift-mining operation on family land at Drummond Hollow near Jasper in 1935. He expanded the operation until the mine was producing 50 tons a day, and then looked to expand. He purchased land near the Burton Bend of the Sipsey River and opened his first strip mine there. Drummond died in 1956, leaving the company to his five sons.

Garry Drummond joined the company after graduating from the University of Alabama with a civil engineering degree in 1961. He and his brothers, Larry, Segal, Donald and John have helped steer the company through a long period of active expansion and acquisition.

New coal leases, mine development and more efficient equipment helped the company reach $8 million in sales by the end of the 1960s. In 1969 Drummond signed a contract to deliver $100 million in coal over 10 years to Ataka & Co. of Tokyo, Japan — a blockbuster debut in the export market. Since that first deal, the Japanese steel industry has acquired much of its coal from Drummond.

In 1976 Drummond won a 15-year contract to deliver 2 million tons of coal per year to the Alabama Power Company's coal-fired electrical generation plants. In 1977 Drummond secured a majority of the Alabama Byproducts Corporation (ABC Coke), and, eight years later, completed the acquisition of the Tarrant company through a tender offer. The company moved into new offices in The Tower at 530 Beacon Parkway West in 1979.

Also in 1985 the company began its first real-estate development activities with office and business parks, residential subdivisions and golf-course developments in Florida and California. These far-flung operations came alongside the closure of all but one of Drummond's Alabama mines.

During the 1980s Drummond formed the Drummond, Ltd. subsidiary to explore coal production opportunities worldwide. Their first development was the La Loma Mine in Columbia, which broke ground in 1993. La Loma is an open-pit mine which produces about 25 million tons of coal annually. In order to secure its $1 billion investment, Drummond donated land, equipment, fuel and supplies to the Columbian military, which has set up recruitment and training bases in the vicinity of the mine and port. It also allegedly paid the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), labeled a terrorist group by the United States, to defend its operations against sabotage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Despite the precautions, several of Drummond's employees were abducted and held for ransom. Many of the guerilla groups were politically involved with labor unions, so union leaders became targets for paramilitary attacks and hundreds or thousands of Columbian labor leaders have lost their lives in the violence.

Estate of Rodriquez v. Drummond Company

  • In April 2003 the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama agreed to hear a case brought by the Sintraminergetica labor union and the families of Valmore Locarno Rodriguez and Victor Hugo Orcasita Amaya, two union officials who were tortured and murdered by a paramilitary group. The suit claimed that Drummond Company officials collaborated with, funded and equipped such groups to provide security and discourage union activity and that the murders were carried out on the company's behalf.

Part of the case was premised on the Alien Torts Claims Act, which was passed as part of the Judiciary Act of 1789 in response to global concerns about piracy. Though it was not the first case brought up under that law, it is the first against an American company to go to trial. The claim, then, is the Drummond committed crimes against humanity which were implicitly sanctioned by the United States, amounting to war crimes. The federal jury was not convinced by these claims and, in their July 26, 2007 verdict held Drummond not liable for the union officials' deaths.

References

  • "Drummond Company" (July 22, 2007) Wikipedia - accessed August 14, 2007
  • Estate of Rodriguez v. Drummond Co., 256 F. Supp. 2d 1250 (N. D. Ala. 2003)
  • Whitmire, Kyle (July 19, 2007) "Drummond on trial: Human rights, coal and capitalism in Columbia." Birmingham Weekly. Vol. 10, No. 49. pp. 10-11
  • Effinger, Anthony & Matthew Bristow (July 15, 2013) "Alabama Billionaire Battles Murder Suits as Prices Ebb" Bloomberg Markets

External links