The Queensland Government has announced a half a billion-dollar plan to boost mineral freight exports on the Mount Isa Line.
Along with the discount of freight charges, a new container terminal is set to be built at the Port of Townsville to support North Queensland’s resource industry.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer, the Hon. Jackie Trad, revealed the plan at the Port of Townsville on Sunday, ahead of the 2019-20 State Budget’s release on Tuesday.
“Our state’s economy is stronger when we have a reliable supply of minerals for export,” Minister 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 roughly 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.
Presently, 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 12 kilometres 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,” Minister Trad commented.
The Queensland Government will provide $30 million towards the freight terminal’s construction, while the Port of Townsville will provide the remaining $18 million.
Further to this, the Palaszczuk Government is set to provide $80 million over four years to reduce rail access charges on the Mount Isa Line, in order to drive the shift from road to rail.
Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, said that 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.
“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,” he said.
The Transport Minister detailed that 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 reduced 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.”