Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has used a surprise election campaign visit to Mount Isa to say it has given further support to the CopperString 2.0 plan to connect the North West to the national electricity market.
Following in its $14.8 million investment a few months ago, the premier said her government has entered into an agreement to support the next phase for the proposed high voltage 1100 km transmission line to the North West Minerals province.
It also follows a federal budget commitment yesterday for CopperString to get funding under a $134m fund for dispatchable generation and reliable energy supplies although the exact amount is unknown due to commercial in-confidence.
In Mount Isa on Wednesday the Premier pointed to the support it had offered Glencore on its copper smelter plus its ongoing support for CopperString 2.0.
The $1.7 billion proposal will support over 750 jobs during construction and will further open up the North West Minerals Province with cheaper energy costs, new investment in renewables and manufacturing across North Queensland.
Under an implementation agreement completed with the proponent CopperString last week, the state government will underwrite additional multi-million-dollar development costs, including completing the environmental impact study.
"This exciting project offers hundreds of jobs in construction and will support potentially thousands of jobs through new economic development.," the Premier said.
"Lower electricity costs in this region will support mining and minerals processing jobs for decades to come."
Treasurer Cameron Dick said the state's commitment would take CopperString through to a final investment decision and potential construction commencement in mid 2021.
"The Palaszczuk Government has committed more than half-a-billion dollars over the past five years to funding initiatives that support investment and production in the North West Minerals Province," Mr Dick said.
"That includes a $380 million investment over five years to maintain and improve the Mount Isa line, $30 million towards a new common user freight terminal in Townsville and $80 million over four years to subsidise rail access charges on the Mount Isa line, as well as almost $16 million for CopperString to date.
CopperString director Joseph O'Brien said the Government's financial support to date had allowed the project to continue investing in preconstruction works, with businesses and employees engaged across North Queensland and in Brisbane.
"The signing of the Agreement is a critical commitment from the Queensland Government to the project, and a valuable confidence boost for the minerals and clean-energy projects looking to utilise the CopperString network between Townsville and Mount Isa," he said.
CopperString is also expected to announce in coming days that it has signed Development Support Agreements with five foundation customers to continue work through the development phase: Dugald River mine operator MMG, manufacturer Incitec Pivot, Glencore's Queensland Metals, New Century Resources and Chinova Resources.
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