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Queensland rail loading yards gear up for more cattle

cattle yards

More than $3 million will be spent on improving cattle loading yards for rail services at Cloncurry, Hughenden, and Maxwelton in Queensland.

The move means more cattle will be transported along the Mount Isa line at increased capacity and efficiency.

The investment package follows more than $7m in State Government commitments for rail siding upgrades at Maxwelton and Julia Creek.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the state wanted more cattle on rail and planned to have more capacity to load the stock onto trains moving into 2024 and beyond.

“These yards are a critical part of the supply chain for loading and transporting cattle by rail for processing on the east coast,” he said.

“We want cattle trains running out of these locations to be efficient and at maximum capacity so we can get the full benefits of running rail services.

“These investments in partnership with local governments in the region demonstrates the Palaszczuk Government’s continued commitment to improving rail services in our regions.”

Cloncurry Shire mayor Greg Campbell said the saleyards had yet to realise their full potential, as the current condition of the rail load-out posed challenges to efficient livestock handling.

“Purpose-built and serviceable infrastructure will be a draw card for pastoralists in North Australia, as they are looking for the most cost-effective way to deliver cattle to ports, meatworks, and saleyards,” he said.

“An efficient saleyard in Cloncurry will not only attract livestock from North West Queensland but the Northern Territory and Western Australia too.”

Flinders Shire Council mayor Jane McNamara said the rehabilitation and extension of the Hughenden Saleyards would provide the ability for the shire to extend the operations and capacity of this facility and assist with the economic diversification for the beef industry.

“The project will include new spelling yards and safety compliance for facilities such as loading ramps, lighting, gates and latches,” she said.

“We are looking forward to working in partnership with the State Government, industry, stakeholders and our primary producers to improve our facility and contribute to our cattle industry.”

Richmond Shire Council mayor John Wharton said he expected a significant increase in the cattle being loaded from Maxwelton in the coming years, due to a brand new loading facility that will be much quicker and provide far better animal welfare outcomes.

““The new rail siding can have a benefit for other products also such as grain, critical minerals, and other commodities,” he said.

“With grain crops and farming already being successful at Maxwelton, Richmond Shire have plans to develop a feedlot and centre pivot on site also. This will allow Northern Gulf cattle to come down and spend 90 days in the feedlot, then be loaded on the train straight to the processor.

“This would create a cattle transport hub and farming depot for grain and silage to feed cattle. The whole complex will contribute to a great asset for Northern Australian cattle industry in the future.”