Reporters for Oregon Public Broadcasting have disclosed the names of two companies investigating a partnership with the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay on a coal export terminal.

A story posted on earthfix.opb.org Wednesday morning identified Mitsui, a Japanese corporation with mining and shipping interests, and Metro Ports, a Calfornia-based shipping terminal manager, as the partners in an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Port of Coos Bay that has been code-named Project Mainstay.

Port officials sent the OPB reporters a partially redacted copy of an exclusive negotiating agreement the port signed six months ago with the Project Mainstay partners. Although the names of the partners were redacted in most of the document, they were identified in one place as “Metro-Mitsui.”

The reporters then obtained emails between the port and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s Regional Solutions office that described the companies in a way that confirmed their identity.

The article said an unnamed South Korean utility company was also likely involved as a customer for the 10 million tons of coal that the partners could eventually ship out annually.

Wednesday afternoon, port spokeswoman Elise Hamner wouldn’t confirm or deny that Mitsui and Metro Ports were the Project Mainstay partners, saying that the terms of the exclusive negotiating agreement kept port personnel from disclosing the names. However, she said OPB’s figures for the amount of coal to be shipped were out of date. She said current estimates are for 3 million tons to be shipped by 2017, 6 million by 2019, and 10 million by 2021. “It’s unlikely that it could get through the permitting process and the railroad be rehabbed before 2017,” she said.

Hamner emphasized, though, that the project is a long way from a done deal, with both partners still doing research. The six-month exclusive negotiating agreement expired this week, and at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. tonight, the port commissioners will likely approve an extension of it, she said.

The meeting will take place in the port’s chambers at 125 Central Ave. in Coos Bay.

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