Montana Commodity Exports Hit Record

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Montana’s commodity exports rose nearly 35 percent in 2007, to a record $1.74 billion, the state Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Bulk shipments of wheat led the exports. Those wheat shipments reflect $613 million in sales, up nearly $203 million from 2006.

“We have seen an increase in both our exports and in manufacturing employment, and Montana is one of only 22 states to see this growth,” Gov. Brian Schweitzer said.

Shipments of inorganic chemicals increased by 37 percent. Exports of ores, slag and ash more than doubled.

With the exclusion of Montana wheat shipped from West Coast grain facilities, Montana’s top export market for 2007 was Canada. Japan ranked second.

Montana sent nearly 108 million bushels of wheat to export facilities on the West Coast. Most of that grain went to Japan, the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee said.

In a related matter, state officials announced selection of Montana Tunnels, a mining operation nearly Helena, for the state’s 2007 Exporter of the Year award. The company draws more than 96 percent of its revenue from export sales of gold, silver lead and zinc in sulfide concentrates. Montana Tunnels employs about 215 people.

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