Queensland has launched an $80 million fund to subsidise rail freight on the Mt Isa Line over the next four years.
Announced in June’s state budget, the four-year, $20 million per annum funding programme is expected to support the growth of the mining industry in Queensland’s north west.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, visiting the rail line on November 18, said the government understands the importance of the North Weest Minerals Province to the resources sector.
“In the year to September 2019, Queensland’s exports topped $87.6 billion,” she said.
“Investing in this region, where 75 per cent of the state’s base metal and mineral deposits are, is crucial to growing this figure and supporting local jobs.”
Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Valle said the Mount Isa Line Incentive Scheme – as it is known – puts Queensland on track “to have the best rail freight pricing policy in the country”.
“Rather than sitting on the sideline and continuing to let rail freight languish in the steam age with high rail access charges, the Queensland Government has positioned itself firmly in the policy driver’s seat,” Dalla Valle said.
“High government access charges put rail freight at a competitive disadvantage to road freight.
“By creating a scheme to incentivise rail freight, the Queensland Government will successfully help shift volumes of bulk minerals from trucks to trains, and create more regional jobs across the transport supply chain.”
Palaszczuk said the government has worked with Queensland Rail and the industry on how best to approach the subsidy plan since it was announced in June.
“After holding two consultation workshops in Townsville in September and Brisbane in October and receiving industry feedback, the implementation arrangements have been finalised,” she said.
“Today the government will be releasing the scheme guidelines and the application form to allow eligible users on the Mount Isa Line to apply for the incentive.”
Deputy premier and state treasurer Jackie Trad said the scheme will make rail freight more competitive and incentivise a shift from road to rail.
“The Mount Isa Line is critical for servicing the mining industry and this investment will help existing mining operators get their resources to the Port of Townsville for export as well as encourage new investment in the state’s north west,” Trad said.
“We have made significant repairs on the 300 kilometres of track on the Mount Isa Line damaged during February’s unprecedented flood event, to ensure that north west Queensland has reliable transport infrastructure.
“The scheme will be administered by Transport and Main Roads, with the first quarterly payment commencing at the end of this year, backdated from 1 July 2019.”
Industry members are encouraged to make formal submissions on proposals for government’s further consideration. Applications are to be emailed to MILscheme@tmr.qld.gov.au. More information on how to apply for the scheme is on the Transport and Main Road’s website at www.tmr.qld.gov.au