Port Alma could ship out 57 million tonnes a year if two coal export projects are approved.
Port Alma could ship out 57 million tonnes a year if two coal export projects are approved.

Rocky's $1.2b coal port boost

DETAILED proposals for a second $1.2 billion coal export project suggest it could transform Port Alma into one of Australia's most important coal ports with the capacity to ship more than 50 million tonnes a year.

Mining giant Xstrata's plans to ship up to 35 million tonnes a year from a deepwater wharf on Balaclava Island, at the mouth of the Fitzroy River, are already the subject of an environmental impact study.

And now a new proposal, called the Fitzroy Terminal Project, is preparing a bid for state-significant project status.

If it goes ahead it will involve covered barges operating down Raglan Creek, through Port Alma to deep water where potentially 22 million tonnes a year would be transferred to bulk carriers.

It could be operational by 2015, according to details released yesterday.

Mary Carroll, chief executive of Capricorn Tourism and Economic Development, said yesterday the new project "would bring jobs and inject economic prosperity to Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast".

She said there was every possibility the Fitzroy Terminal would be operational earlier than Xstrata's because it was simpler and used innovative technology that had already been proven abroad.

She praised its "environmentally sensible design".

"This is a really exciting project with the potential to create hundreds of jobs.

"Using barges will mean there will be no need to dredge at Port Alma," she said.

Capricorn Tourism and Economic Development is working closely with the CQ Consulting Group to develop the feasibility and environmental studies for the proposal.

Project co-ordinator Ben King said yesterday: "We have made a conscious decision to employ local consultants and work closely with the local economic development body for the region."

It has been revealed that although the two proposals for Port Alma are distinct, the two projects are proposing to share some of the infrastructure.

Both would ship coal from the existing north coast rail line along a new stretch of 12km to coal stockyards.

From there Xstrata will use a conveyor across mud flats to a new wharf on Balaclava Island.

Fitzroy Terminal would take coal on a separate covered conveyor to load barges in Raglan Creek, which would transfer the cargo to ships in deep water.



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