Port Alma may ship coal by 2014

A BILLION-dollar coal export terminal at Port Alma could be operating by 2014, councillors were told yesterday.

The project, proposed by Xstrata Coal, would serve the Wandoan Coal project, which has the potential to become Australia's most productive coal mine.

A deputation from Xstrata told Rockhampton Regional Council that the company was seeking permission from the State Government to build a terminal on Balaclava Island - just off Port Alma - that would create 800 construction jobs.

When it was operational the terminal would provide 100 full-time jobs and could export up to 100 million tonnes of coal.

Project manager Jason Pope said Balaclava Island was owned by the Gladstone Port Authority and was just 5km offshore.

The company was proposing to build a 13km rail spur off the QR Network North Coast line, breaking away from the main line 1.5 kilometres north of Raglan - just 40km south of Rockhampton.

He said the State Government had just been asked to declare it a significant project and that extensive environmental impact investigations had already been done.

If all went according to plan, work could start as early as 2012, he said.

The rail line would take vast quantities of coal to Port Alma, well away from the existing salt production facilities.

The company will put its latest plans on display in Marmor on December 5 and 6 and welcomes feedback from residents, he said.

An accommodation village for the 800 construction workers might be built in the region, he said.

In answer to a question from Cr Glenda Mather, he said the biggest hurdle would be dredging a channel deep enough for coal bulk carriers, but he was sure it could be achieved.

Mayor Brad Carter said he wished Xstrata well with the project.

“I would like to see something like this come to the fore. It would be very exciting for the region,” he said.

Councillors were told the project could have a great impact on Rocky.

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