The Queensland Resources Council has welcomed the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to upgrading the Townsville to Mount Isa rail line and reducing rail charges as a new driver in investment, exports and jobs from the State’s North West Minerals Province.
QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said the announcement ahead of the Budget by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad of $380 million over five years to upgrade the line and reduce user charges by $20 million per annum was a commitment of confidence in the resources sector, particularly copper, zinc and lead.
Mr Macfarlane said the investment built upon the work, which QRC has been engaged in with Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham and State Development Minister Cameron Dick, to prepare a blueprint for the North West Minerals Province.
“The potential for the North West resources is enormous. Already resources – mining and mineral processing – contributes $1.7 billion or more than a third of the region’s economy and supports almost 10,000 full-time equivalent jobs or almost three-quarters of the region’s workforce,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“By reinvesting in the rail line, the Government can work with industry to create more wealth, more exports and more jobs for Queenslanders. It will create opportunities in the North West through to Townsville and the Port as well as to supplying businesses across the State.”
“We are keen to work with the Government on the staging of the upgrade to securing the return on this investment for all Queenslanders as soon as possible.
“Through the Blueprint and the draft North West Queensland Economic Diversification Strategy the Government has identified the importance of common user infrastructure to the region’s development.”
The Government has stated: “Common user infrastructure provides the opportunity to drive down development costs for individual projects, with multiple users contributing and benefiting from infrastructure such as road, rail and port, electricity, gas and water or mineral processing infrastructure.”
Mr Macfarlane said the importance of the commitment to upgrading the rail line was highlighted by the recent devastating flooding.
“We have seen Queensland Rail just complete an outstanding job. As a result of a 11-week QR operation, the line re-opened ahead of schedule and has resulted in reduced transport times by around 50 minutes,” he said.
“This rail line is a key transport corridor for Queensland’s metals industry which contributed $9.3 billion to the State’s economy last financial year, supported more than 50,000 full-time jobs and paid $1.3 billion in wages.”