The Palaszczuk Government has announced a plan to boost mineral exports via the Mount Isa rail line, including freight charge discounts and new port facilities.
Announcing the plan at the Port of Townsville today ahead of Tuesday’s State Budget, Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the investment would promote mining and exploration in the North West.
“A number of mines are trucking minerals from the North West to the port, and the trains that are carrying minerals in shipping containers have to be unloaded at Stuart and then trucked 12km to the port,” she said.
“Building a new common user rail freight terminal at the port will make the Mount Isa Line more attractive for exporters and take trucks off the Flinders Highway and Townsville’s roads.”
The State Government will contribute $30 million towards the freight terminal’s construction, with the Port of Townsville providing the remaining $18 million.
The State will also provide $80 million over four years to reduce rail access charges on the Mount Isa Line, to drive the shift from road to rail.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the Mount Isa Line was critical for North Queensland’s economy, and making it more efficient and cost competitive was vital to support and grow resources exports.
Mr Bailey said almost 75 per cent of the freight on the Mount Isa Line was made up of wagons carrying minerals, fertiliser and acid.
“Commercial operators pay access charges to Queensland Rail to use the Mount Isa line and industry has called on the Palaszczuk Government to make rail freight more competitive,” he said.
“We’ve listened and will provide Queensland Rail with $20 million each year starting from 1 July this year, to reduce rail access charges and will work with industry on implementation arrangements.”
Mr Bailey said the repairs Queensland Rail carried out across 300km of track following the monsoonal weather event earlier this year had resulted in cutting almost an hour off the travel time between Mount Isa and Townsville, significantly improving efficiency and increasing capacity.
“The Palaszczuk Government is investing $380 million over five years to maintain and improve the line, making the freight journey faster and more reliable,” he said.
Mr Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government’s investment would give greater certainty to companies that relied on the Mount Isa Line and would generate regional jobs, including construction jobs for the new Townsville Port Rail Freight Terminal.