The Federal Government has pledged up to $11 million to help progress the $1.7 billion CopperString 2.0 project to final investment decision in 2021.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the support for CopperString was an investment in the future of Queensland that would bring power prices down, create 750 direct construction jobs and unlock the significant economic potential of the North West Minerals Province.
“Access to affordable and reliable energy supply will help drive new investment and new opportunities, providing a long-term future for families, businesses and local communities from Townsville to Mount Isa,” he said.
The project consists of a 740km overhead high voltage electricity transmission line from a new sub-station at Woodstock, south of Townsville, to the Chumvale sub-station, near Cloncurry.
Subject to demand, the project may extend west to Mount Isa, with spur lines south and north to mines and renewable energy facilities.
Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter applauded the Federal Government for putting up the $11 million needed to progress the CopperString project.
Mr Katter said an enormous amount of work had gone into the project behind the scenes and that the announcement was a great win for the inland region, which was struggling with the cost of electricity.
“The North-West Minerals Province brings in over $600 million a year into the Australian economy with the production of copper, silver, lead, zinc and gold,” he said.
“But due to the current supply being gas, we are paying an exorbitant price for electricity, and are now seeing the collapse of the mid-west.
“CopperString has been put through the wringer first with the Rudd/Swan government throwing a $320 million grant to get the west connected to the national grid, then the Government was rolled before they could get it up.
“For whatever reason, the Mount Isa Mine knocked back the opportunity when it presented itself during the Abbott/Hockey government and as a result have continued to pay up to $17 a unit for electricity.
“CopperString is now a matter of life and death for Mount Isa. The biggest fertiliser plant in Australia relies on the copper refinery but copper is very deep and is extremely marginal. If CopperString doesn’t happen, say goodbye to the fertiliser plant and the copper refinery.”
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said continued support for this project was a key part of the government’s broader commitment to Central and North Queensland.
“Queensland’s mining sector is a significant driver of Australia’s economic success story, and cheaper, more reliable power in the north will continue to support this important industry,” he said.
“Affordable reliable electricity is essential in driving downstream manufacturing and creating more local jobs.
“This will help open up new investment and create new, high-paying jobs for the people of Queensland.”
Today’s announcement builds on previous federal support for the project of $5.17 million in 2019.