Mount Isa to Townsville’s regional development group, MITEZ expects 2019 to be another year of positive advances across the region with a number of projects currently in the pipeline and the possibility of further funding commitments in the lead up to the Federal election.

Funding of $180m has already been pledged towards the construction of an off-stream water project at Hughenden, $54 million to be spent on building Big Rocks Weir on the Burdekin River near Charters Towers and $4.5m was committed towards the next phase of engineering and development works for a transmission line connecting the North West Minerals province to the coastal grid.

This follows an announcement in early December 2018 at the opening of the Northern Gas Pipeline project that Jemena has plans to extend the pipeline further south to connect to domestic and export markets on Australia’s east coast.

Various proposals for irrigated agriculture are progressing with further trials planned in Cloncurry and around Richmond, as well as Hughenden’s 15 Mile irrigation project set to progress this year.

MITEZ’s $1.8m feasibility study into a possible new dam south of Cloncurry will be completed by April. If constructed, Cave Hill Dam would provide additional water security for industry and communities in the North West, as well as provide an opportunity to establish large-scale irrigated agriculture at potential cropping areas around Cloncurry.

Mount Isa City Council has received funding from the Queensland Government to further investigate the feasibility and business case for the proposed transport and logistics hub that may be constructed north of the airport. The proposal would include an area for other mines in the region to stockpile, process and load their product onto rail.

Richmond Shire Council is set to undertake a $1.6m study funded by the Queensland Government to investigate a proposal to construct a large off-stream water storage on the Flinders River, with associated distribution infrastructure to supply an adjacent cropping area, west of Richmond.

Hughenden’s $8m Lake Project including extensive landscaping will provide a fantastic lifestyle amenity for the community and a new tourist attraction for the region and is well advanced; expected to be completed by September.

In November of 2018 Glencore announced a change in their mining method to sub-level cave mining that would allow them to target lower grade copper. Following the decision to invest $30m to re-brick the Mount Isa Copper Smelter furnace this sees the possibility of the life of the copper mine to now extend out past 2024.

A number of new mining projects in the North West Minerals Province are advancing towards developing operations at their sites, such as the Ardmore phosphate project near Dajarra, Multi-Com’s vanadium project near Julia Creek, Oz Minerals copper project near Eloise Mine and Round Oak Mineral’s Barbara copper gold project between Cloncurry and Mount Isa.

Incentives provided by both the Queensland and Australian Governments will likely encourage further exploration activity, drilling and geo-technical work in the North West during 2019 which could result in discovery of new mineral deposits.

In late November of 2018, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk announced the Queensland Government had committed to develop a supply chain strategy for the North West Minerals Province that will include the latest developments in energy, transport and other associated infrastructure along the corridor through to the Port. It is expected there will be considerable stakeholder consultation taking place during 2019.

With the Queensland Government allocation of $10m for Outback Queensland tourism infrastructure, there will a number of large projects underway in the region including $1.2m to upgrade to the Riversleigh Fossil Centre at Mount Isa.

MITEZ is currently preparing project proposals to submit to the Queensland Government’s Remote Area Board Assistance Program as funding has been approved for projects that will deliver regional economic benefits. These projects are to be completed in 2019.