The Queensland Government has announced that it will spend $500 million to boost mineral exports on the freight corridor from Mount Isa to Townsville.
The funding includes provisions for the construction of a new $48 million container terminal at the Port of Townsville to support North Queensland’s resources industry. The port is Australia’s largest export location for several commodities, including zinc, lead, copper and fertiliser.
The Queensland Government and Port of Townsville will contribute $30 million and $18 million towards construction of the terminal, respectively. The government also announced it will provide $80 million over a four-year period to reduce rail access charges on the line in a omve to encourage a freight shift from road to rail.
“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,” said Transport and Roads Minister Mark Bailey.
“We’ve listened and will provide Queensland Rail with $20 million each year starting from July 1 this year, to reduce rail access charges and will work with industry on implementation arrangements.”
This funding is in addition to the state government’s $380 million, five-year track maintenance plan in the 2018-19 state budget.
Queensland’s Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said that the investment underlined the state government’s commitment to backing regional communities and jobs in the North West by improving reliability through improved transport infrastructure.
“Queensland’s North West Mineral Province contains about 75 per cent of the state’s base metal and minerals, including copper, lead, zinc, silver, gold and phosphate deposits,” she said.
“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.”
Freight rail major Aurizon also welcomed the investment, stating that the current rail access charges for the route from Mount Isa to Townsville are “substantially higher” than what trucks pay to use the equivalent highway.
“Rail freight really should do the heavy lifting for bulk goods and minerals because it is more efficient, safer and has a far smaller carbon footprint than road freight,” said Sarah Dixon, general manager of Aurizon’s Townsville-based Bulk East business.
“This should be the case on the Mount Isa line which is one of the nation’s most important export supply chains.”