The Morrison government has confirmed that a further $11 million in funding will be provided to accelerate the development of the CopperString 2.0 transmission network upgrade, that will open up new regions of northern Queensland for renewable energy investment.
Speaking from Queensland prime minister Scott Morrison said the additional funding would help progress work on the project, being developed by Townsville based CuString, with an aim to reach a final investment decision in 2021.
Morrison re-announced the funding on Wednesday, after the funds were allocated to the project in the federal budget handed down in October last year, with the project formally signing off on the funding agreement.
CopperString 2.0 would see up to 1,000km of new transmission network infrastructure built across Northern Queensland, linking Mount Isa and Townsville at an expected total cost of $1.5 billion. The project could open up opportunities for substantial new investment in wind and solar projects across Queensland.
The influx of new low-cost zero-emissions energy projects is also expected to provide a major boost to resources projects planned for the region, including the production of copper, lead and zinc.
The project is expected to unlock significant increases in minerals production in Northern Queensland, estimated to be as much as $154 billion higher thanks to lower electricity prices, supporting more than 3,500 new jobs in the region.
“Our support for CopperString is an investment in the future of Queensland that will bring power prices down, create 750 direct construction jobs and unlock the significant economic potential of the North West Minerals Province,” Morrison said.
“Access to affordable and reliable energy supply will help drive new investment and new opportunities, providing a long-term future for families, businesses and local communities from Townsville to Mount Isa.”
Managing director of the CopperString 2.0 project, Joseph O’Brien, said that the project would open up the possibility of a Australia establishing itself as a leading global supplier of ‘clean minerals’ – producing the materials needed in high tech industries, and powering the extraction of these materials with renewable energy.
“The world increasingly wants “clean minerals” and secure supply arrangements for everything from smart phones to fighter jets, and North and North West Queensland tick all the boxes as ready meet this demand,” O’Brien said.
“The global forces are all behind further minerals and clean-energy development across Northern Queensland that could deliver another golden age for the Townsville to Mount Isa export supply chain if we position ourselves as a competitive supplier.”
“Strong global demand bodes very well for the Townsville industrial businesses and the NWMP which is one of the world’s most significant minerals resources basins and underpins the critical need for CopperString’s common use transmission infrastructure to bring power prices in the region down to a globally competitive level.”
The CopperString 2.0 project has previously received $14.8 million in funding from the Queensland state government and received a $5.2 million grant in 2019 to fund early preparatory works.
Federal energy minister Angus Taylor said the project would play a key role in supporting a wider economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Government is absolutely committed to delivering a fair deal on energy for the families and businesses of central and northern Queensland,” Taylor said.
“Connecting north Queensland with the National Electricity Market will help deliver lower cost, reliable power to our important job-creating and export oriented regional industries and increase opportunities for the many other energy projects along the corridor.”