PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Australian government has announced a A$217-million investment to upgrade and develop roads in the Northern Territory, to open up the Beetaloo basin for major gas projects.
The Gas Industry Roads Upgrades programme, which will be funded through the Roads of Strategic Importance (Rosi) initiative, builds on the A$219-million committed to the Northern Territory roads in the 2020/21 Federal Budget, as well as the 2020 Covid-19 stimulus package, which will also benefit the development of the gas industry in the Northern Territory.
Funding will also include a A$325 000 study for the development of a fully operational multimodal facility and rail terminal in the Northern Territory to meet the current and future growth needs of Tennant Creek and the Barkly region.
The study will explore the feasibility and options for proceeding with the multimodal facility through the investigation of land constraints, infrastructure needs (road and essential services) necessary for the facility and the site for a rail freight terminal for the future Mt Isa to Tennant Creek rail link to meet the needs of the surrounding region.
The facility has scope to provide opportunities for industrial and logistics support for expansion of the agriculture, pastoral, mining and other industries and improved interconnectivity to the future Mt Isa to Tennant Creek rail, existing Adelaide to Darwin rail and the Stuart Highway and Barkly Highway.
The development study is expected to commence in early 2021 and be completed by the end of 2021.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said this project demonstrates the Australian government’s commitment to improving the road network in regional, rural and remote parts of the Territory.
“The Australian government has committed to substantial investments in infrastructure that will support the Beetaloo development, as well as directly benefit local communities, industry and pastoralists,” McCormack said.
“Across Australia, we continue to roll out these types of major projects which lay the economic foundations for our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and to enable the development of local industry, economic growth and job opportunities well into the future.”
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the investment will help open up one of the regions identified through the Strategic Basin Plan for a gas-led recovery.
“The basin has the potential to transform the Northern Territory’s economy, creating thousands of jobs and supply Australia’s gas demand for decades to come,” Pitt said.
“The government’s investment in roads and other supporting infrastructure will help unlock these benefits as well as supporting job opportunities for locals.
“These roads upgrades will provide quality infrastructure to support gas development and other industries in and around the Beetaloo sub-basin. This will support industry and business by providing more reliable freight links that will reduce the cost of doing business.”
The government previously announced plans to accelerate gas exploration and development in the Beetaloo sub-basin, providing up to A$50-million for exploration taking place before the end of June 2022.
Pitt said at the time that the funding would fast-track drilling by providing grants to cover 25% of eligible exploration costs, capped at A$7.5-million per well and three wells per exploration venture.