Xstrata is to start a $4 million pre-feasibility this month into development of a possible $750 million to $1 billion coal port at Port Alma.
The study will be completed by June 2009 with an environmental assessment conducted during the pre-feasibility phase.
Their study will also analyse two additional berths for products, other than coal, being part of any redevelopment.
Port Alma currently is used for importing of explosives and general cargo.
Exports of about 180,000 tonnes a year have included salt from nearby Bajool, frozen beef and tallow, explosives, scrap metal and general cargo.
Xstrata’s pre-feasibility study will include geotechnical investigations, hydrographic survey work and sedimentation studies.