Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal
Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal Tony Martin

$5.4b expansion plan for Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal

A MAJOR Queensland coal port is considering a $5.4 billion expansion that would create more than 1000 jobs and allow it to almost double in size.

Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal south of Mackay was given permission on Wednesday to charge an extra $0.0065 per tonne of coal it handles to help fund a $5.8 million investigation into the project.

The expansion would have the Queensland Government-owned port exporting 153 million tonnes of coal each year, up from its current capacity of 85 million tonnes.

DBCT has not yet exported more than 65 million.

The port told the Queensland Competition Authority, when seeking approval for that extra half-cent increase, it had interest from mining companies wanting to eventually use the extra space.

DBCT's list of customers acts as a guide to the world's most powerful resource firms.

Bowen Basin mines owned by BHP Billiton, Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Vale, Xstrata and Peabody dispatch coal for export through DBCT.

When the port grew by 30.5 million tonnes to 85 million tonnes during its four-year, $1.26 billion expansion from 2005 to 2009, the construction team peaked with 1100 workers.

This latest development project - if approved on current plans - would cost four-times more to build than the earlier project, while delivering double the capacity.

Part of this would include building gigantic stockyards to store the coal, either to the south of DBCT, to the north at Louisa Creek, or further north again at Dudgeon Point.

Such a massive undertaking for DBCT was considered at the tail-end of its previous expansion.

At the time, DBCT considered it would take up to six years to build up to the slightly lower target of 152 million tonnes.

The latest study into the plans is expected to take four years.