Queensland to spend $5b on electricity transmission project


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Queensland will spend $5 billion on an 1100km electricity transmission line linking the state’s vast northwest mining region to the national grid for the first time.

The state government will take over private company CuString’s planned CopperString 2.0 project to build a high voltage line from Townsville to the northwest, which is rich in copper, zinc, lead, silver and potentially phosphate and rare earth minerals.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the line capacity will be increased between Townsville and Hughdenden to allow future renewable energy projects to connect to the grid as well.

State-owned transmission provider Powerlink will conduct early work this year before construction starts next year with the project due to be completed by 2029.

“CopperString is the most significant investment in economic infrastructure in North Queensland in generations,” Ms Palaszczuk said in a statement on Tuesday morning.

“Unlocking affordable renewable energy and our critical minerals will benefit Townsville, Mount Isa and every town in between – unlocking thousands of jobs and billions in investment.”

Having a concrete timeline will give green energy and mining projects certainty to invest, CEO of economic development body Townsville Enterprise Claudia Brumme-Smith said.

“We have spoken to plenty of prime ministers, plenty of premiers and they all were supportive but no one ever put their money where their mouth is,” she told ABC radio North Queensland on Tuesday.

“The premier has done that today … yes it took us ten years but … we haven’t built transmission lines like that for decades.”

Ms Brumme-Smith said there were “billions of dollars in the wings” as wind farms, solar farms and critical mineral mining projects waited on the enabling infrastructure.

She’s projecting a total of 3000 jobs for the region accounting for the subsequent projects.

The government indicated it was keen to take over the project in January after CopperString 2.0 was given federal approval in December.

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said the line will open up the region for renewable energy projects, with the government signing a number of joint venture deals with private operators for solar, wind, hydrogen and gas projects there in the past two years.

“Building this transmission line opens up 6000 megawatts of potential renewable energy in the North Queensland Renewable Energy Zone, creating more jobs than our state has ever seen in a new, decarbonised resources sector stretching from Townsville to Mount Isa – and they’re starting right now, with early works packages to be rolled out almost immediately,” he said in a statement.

The project, which has bipartisan support, has been the subject of multiple state and federal election promises over the years.

Local federal and state MPs Bob Katter and Robbie Katter, a father-son duo who represent the aptly-named Katter’s Australian Party in the region, have been pushing for CopperString 2.0 since 2003.


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