Chair of regional development group MITEZ, David Glasson said it makes sense for the Commonwealth Government to divert the $150m allocated for the proposed Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor (TEARC) to other projects associated with the supply chain if the TEARC does not proceed at this time.

MITEZ understands a business case conducted on the proposed rail access project indicated that current projected demand did not support the $400m project going ahead at this time said Mr Glasson.

“The (TEARC) was one of the top recommendations in MITEZ’s fifty year plan for the Mount Isa to Townsville supply chain and was designed to reduce bottlenecks and reduce the number of long trains travelling in and out of the Port of Townsville and was based on around 20 million tonnes per annum from mines in the North West” he said.

“We believe the recent business case on the TEARC project did not factor in the 3-4 million tpa of nickel that was previously accessing the North Coast line to rail product from the Port to the Yabula processing facility” said Mr Glasson.

“If the nickel refinery does recommence then this will have a big impact on the number of trains entering the Port and traveling through South Townsville and around the new stadium and when production from the North West ramps up, the bottlenecks will become a bigger issue which will require a re-think on the urgency for the TEARC” he said.

The concern of our members is that if the TEARC project is not proceeding at this time that the $150 million already committed by the Commonwealth, should be diverted to other projects associated with our supply chain such as the $75million needed for the channel widening project at Townsville Port to cater for increasing vessel sizes to ensure that North Queensland has a competitive freight gateway for the benefit of the region. This is the critical first stage of the Port Expansion Project, which will ensure capacity to grow trade volumes over the next 30 years.