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Work starts on A$5bn CopperString

7th March 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia


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PERTH ( – Early works on the A$5-billion CopperString 2.0 project, in Queensland, is expected to start this year, with construction planned to start next year, the Queensland government said on Tuesday.

The 1 100 km CopperString 2.0 project is expected to unlock Australia’s largest renewable energy zone and more than A$500-billion dollars in new critical minerals in North Queensland.

CopperString 2.0 will connect vast renewable wind and solar resources with critical minerals mining and processing that can be used to make batteries and renewables in North Queensland. The project is expected to be completed by 2029.

Construction is expected to support 800 direct jobs over six years and thousands of new jobs in critical minerals mining, manufacturing and construction of renewables.

Publicly owned transmission business Powerlink will lead work on the project.

“CopperString is the most significant investment in economic infrastructure in North Queensland in generations. Unlocking affordable renewable energy and our critical minerals will benefit Townsville, Mount Isa and every town in between, unlocking thousands of jobs and billions in investment,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Tuesday.

“Townsville will become a renewable manufacturing epicentre between the world and the largest renewable energy zone in the nation and the world-class North West Minerals Province.

“CopperString ensures that Mount Isa will continue to be the heart of the North West Minerals Province.

“CopperString and the Townsville critical minerals demonstration plant will act as a magnet for investment into North Queensland during the clean energy industrial revolution and that means good, secure mining and manufacturing jobs for Queenslanders,” Palaszczuk said.

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said that the Queensland SuperGrid, the nation’s largest, allows Queensland to produce, use and export the next era of high-value extracted minerals through the renewable energy that the world is craving, creating literally tens of thousands of well-paid jobs for generations to come.

“Building this transmission line opens up 6 000 MW of potential renewable energy in the North Queensland Renewable Energy Zone, creating more jobs than our state has ever seen in a new, decarbonised resources sector stretching from Townsville to Mt Isa–and they’re starting right now, with early works packages to be rolled out almost immediately.”

Resources Minister Scott Stewart added that CopperString 2.0 will help create opportunities for resources companies to develop critical minerals projects and the broader North West Minerals Province.

“Queensland has vast reserves of critical minerals, such as copper, zinc, vanadium and cobalt, that the world is demanding to produce batteries and renewable energy as part of their plans to decarbonise,” he said.

The Queensland Resources Council has welcomed the state government’s commitment to the CopperString 2.0 project, with CEO Ian Macfarlane saying it had the potential to be a significant boost for the North West Minerals Province, while also unlocking one of Queensland’s most prospective regions for generating renewable energy by connecting Mount Isa to the national electricity market. 

“CopperString can help power Queensland into the next growth phase of the resources sector, with the North West home to many of the rare earths and critical minerals the world needs for a decarbonised future,” Macfarlane said. 

“CopperString has been talked about for over a decade and we congratulate those behind the project, and those who’ve backed it, to get it to this stage. 

“It is a significant investment in the future of North Queensland and the government should now be doing everything it can to attract the companies that will deliver the projects that create jobs and economic growth,” Macfarlane said. 

However, he warned that the state had to ensure it remained attractive to resources investors, or it would risk losing the opportunities for gains due to the uncertainty created by sudden changes in royalty rates.

“There is no doubt that Queensland’s global reputation as a place to invest in resources projects has taken a big hit following the state government’s decision to impose the world’s highest coal royalty tax,” Macfarlane said.

“The government’s snap decision to introduce the royalty scheme without consultation has created uncertainty for investors, with a number of major companies indicating they will consider other options outside Queensland to invest in projects. 

“Make no mistake, the investor uncertainty spreads beyond coal to the whole Queensland resources sector, including critical minerals and rare earths that are the future of the industry,”  Macfarlane said. 

“Nothing will deter investors committing billions of dollars to major resources projects like a government that changes the rules without warning, and that’s what has happened in Queensland. 

“CopperString offers tremendous opportunities for the resources sector to continue to underpin a strong Queensland economy and provide thousands of jobs. If the government wants to see the project reach its full potential, it must reconsider the coal royalty tax. 

"The Queensland resources sector is the economic driving force for the entire state.  We want to ensure that investment continues, but we must keep Queensland competitive to make the most of the opportunities in the decades ahead.” 

Meanwhile, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (Amec) has also welcomed the CopperString go-ahead, with CEO Warren Pearce saying it was a major step forward in supporting Queensland’s critical minerals opportunity.

“Amec has been a strong advocate for CopperString 2.0, with many of our members seeking to develop new mining projects based in the economic zone between Mount Isa and Townsville,” said Pearce.

“This is an investment in critical economic infrastructure, that when complete, will reduce the cost for new projects to be developed, and will ultimately help unlock an incredible minerals opportunity for Queensland.

“Amec will continue to work with the Queensland government on removing cost and regulatory barriers, that along with major infrastructure investment, will be critical to getting new projects into development.”

Pearce noted that while A$500-million of coal royalties had been allocated to the CopperString project, Amec’s support for the infrastructure project was in no way a support for the coal royalty increase announced by the Queensland government.

“The Queensland government must immediately bring an end to the coal royalty cash grab, which is doing immense damage to the investment attractiveness of Queensland and will ultimately be extremely damaging for the Queensland economy,” Pearce added.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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