A fertiliser producer’s plans to re-open the Greenvale-Yabulu rail line are ambitious, but could provide great opportunities for the local community, says Charters Towers mayor Liz Schmidt.
She was commenting after Agripower Australia’s $663 million Fertiliser Expansion Project was granted prescribed project status by the State Government this week.
The cost takes in a proposed mine-to-rail-head conveyor, 220km rail line, a 1Mtpa processing plant at or near Yabulu, and facilities at Port of Townsville, according to the proponent.
Cr Schmidt said the potential for a reopened rail to be used by other parties could bring great benefits on top of the Agripower Australia development.
“That project itself will be wonderful – the economic development and the money spent back into the area,” she said.
“I think it’s good that the State Government has recognised it’s a project of state significance and have come on board to fast-track what needs to be done.”
The Greenvale area is also home to Australian Mines’ proposed $1.4 billion Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project, however that company declined this week to make any comment on the Agripower announcement.
Agripower mines amorphous silica near Greenvale from a deposit which it believes could create a mine life of 200 years.
Commissioning is underway at a $52 million processing facility near Charters Towers.
Agripower managing director Peter Prentice said production should start in late June or early July, with the first 5000-tonne shipment expected to be exported to India in late July.
He says gaining prescribed project status for the much larger processing operation planned near Yabulu added an element of recognition that the company could use in its international markets.
The project had major significance for the region, he said.
“At one million tonnes per annum, we add 470 jobs directly,” he said.
“The ‘multiplier effect’ used by economists will result in up to four times that in indirect employment being as a result of our project.”
He said Agripower was deliberately oversizing the rail development to allow other parties to use it.