Hopes new mine may boost port

A NEW underground coalmine could provide much-needed activity for the struggling Bell Bay port on the East Tamar.

Successful exploration attempts in the Fingal Valley by mining investors Hardrock Investments could see new commerce injected into the George Town and Break O'Day municipalities.

The company holds two exploration licences in the valley, which yield about 400,000 tonnes of saleable coal each year.

Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources corporate affairs acting manager Simon Hiscock said the company had shown its intention to open an underground mine for export.

``If this comes into operation this would be the first to export coal from the state,'' Mr Hiscock said.

``This project is still at an early planning stage and no mining lease has been granted.''

Tasmanian Minerals Council executive director Terry Long said the best coal in the area was held by Cornwall Coal, a subsidiary of Cement Australia.

``I vaguely heard that there was somebody looking to export coal from the Fingal Valley, although I don't know if it is a feasible project,'' Mr Long said.

The potential mine could mean new business for the Bell Bay Port and George Town rail system.

``Although there has been no official discussion, I would support any initiative as far as shipping out of Bell Bay,'' George Town Mayor Roger Broomhall said.

``I believe it will be bulk shipping, not container shipping - there is some talk that transport could be via our rail system.

``It is very, very important to us and could only stimulate activity at the Bell Bay port.''