Oct 10, 2019

CopperString boss highlights hurdles to investment

CopperString boss highlights hurdles to investment

Barriers still exist to game-changing infrastructure investment in Northern Queensland compared to southern regions, a major project proponent says. 

CopperString 2.0 director Joseph O’Brien is among those providing evidence to the Senate Select Committee into the effectiveness of the Australian Government’s Northern Australia agenda.

The committee is holding public hearings in Townsville and Mount Isa this week.

In a media statement Mr O’Brien said CopperString 2.0 was in the fortunate position of having received strong support, including financial commitments from the Morrison and Palaszczuk Governments.

The proposal to develop a $1.5 billion, 1100km high-voltage electricity transmission network connecting the North West Minerals Province to the National Electricity Market (NEM) near Townsville is believed to be the largest single investment contemplated by the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

Mr O’Brien said the Australian Government’s Northern Australia agenda, including the NAIF, was having a positive impact and that barriers still existed which resulted in less game-changing infrastructure investment in Northern Queensland than in southern regions. 

“The unique economic environment across Northern Australia, including the Townsville to Mount Isa minerals processing and export corridor, combined with the region’s broad geography and isolation from established finance centres, means it is more expensive to develop projects and more difficult to attract private-sector financing for early-stage investment and development activities,” he said. 

“The potential for Northern Queensland is no pipe-dream, we have the natural resources for food and mineral production, and we can see global demand for our high-value products growing, these are facts.

“Good work is being done at a State and Federal level, there are just some policy gaps that hold us back from delivering game-changing infrastructure that encourages businesses to invest.

“The relatively simple proposition of building a transmission line across Northern Queensland has around $5 billion of investment associated with it across clean energy and mining in the next four or five years, without even accounting for opportunities like rare-earth mining, the Hells Gates dam or our immense hydrogen production potential.”

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