The Palaszczuk Government has unveiled a half a billion dollar plan to boost mineral freight exports on the Mount Isa Line.
Freight charges will be discounted, and a new container terminal built at the Port of Townsville to support an already beefed up five-year line maintenance budget to support North Queensland’s resource industry.
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 state’s north west.
“Our state’s economy is stronger when we have a reliable supply of minerals for export,” Ms Trad said.
“This investment underlines our commitment to backing regional communities and regional jobs.
“We can improve reliability with better transport infrastructure and that’s what this plan will do.
“Queensland’s North West Mineral Province contains about 75 per cent of the state’s base metal and minerals, including copper, lead, zinc, silver, gold and phosphate deposits.
“The Port of Townsville is Australia’s largest exporter of zinc, copper, lead and fertiliser.
“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.
“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 Palaszczuk Government will contribute $30 million towards the freight terminal’s construction, with the Port of Townsville providing the remaining $18 million.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government would 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.
“The Mount Isa Line is critical for North Queensland’s economy, and making it more efficient and cost competitive is vital to support and grow resources exports in the region,” Mr Bailey said.
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.
“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.
“The major repairs Queensland Rail carried out on more than 200 sites across 300-kilometres of track following the monsoonal weather event earlier this year have 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.”
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.