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MITEZ Region Halts Covid-19

Since Australia first commenced lock down restrictions on March 23rd, we’ve all had to adapt by implementing measures to abide by the State and Federal Government protocols in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

Due to the effectiveness of actions by various agencies and authorities and the cooperation of people living and working in communities along the MITEZ corridor, our region has been successful in remaining free of any cases of the virus.

As Governments agreed to recognise primary producers and resource industries as essential, this meant that many businesses in the region were able to continue to operate; although many had to work around a number of supply chain, labour and other resource issues.

The most notable impacts to occur have been relating to air and road travel, along with a significant number of accommodation, hospitality and retail businesses. With the easing of restrictions on May 19th, a return to everyday normal has begun to return, with exception of activities where social distancing requires tight control.

With this said it is unfortunate that tourism, travel and related industries across the Outback have been significantly affected and may not return to normal until 2021 and MITEZ endorses measures to ensure these sectors are supported.

MITEZ Welcomes Road Funding

On May 19th, the Queensland Government announced $32.9 million in new, accelerated funding for North West Queensland roads as part of a $400 million package to supercharge the state economy through COVID-19 recovery.

Works in our region covered under the funding will include:
  • Gregory Developmental Road (Charters Towers - The Lynd): Major culvert upgrade - $5.1 million
  • Richmond - Winton Road: Replace heavily damaged culvert with new reinforced concrete box culvert - $2.7 million 
  • Wills Developmental Road (Julia Creek - Burketown): Major culvert replacement - $1.4 million 
  • Burke Developmental Road (Cloncurry - Normanton): Butcher Creek bridge replacement - $10.7 million 
  • Gregory Downs - Camooweal Road: Progressive sealing - $3.5 million 
  • Cloncurry - Dajarra Road: Progressive sealing - $8.5 million 
The funding above is in addition to the $111 million in joint funding with the Federal Government announced last month under the Roads of Strategic Importance scheme, for roads in North and North West Queensland.

That $111 million in funding includes projects like:
  • Sealing parts of the Kennedy Developmental Road between The Lynd and Hughenden
  • New overtaking lanes on the Flinders Highway between Townsville and Charleville
  • Major maintenance on the Flinders Highway between Julia Creek and Cloncurry
  • Major maintenance on the Gregory Developmental Road between Charters Towers and The Lynd

CopperString Project Funding Announcement Welcomed 

The recent announcement by the Queensland Government to commit $14.8 million to the proposed $1.5 billion CopperString high-voltage powerline project, to connect the North West to the National Electricity Market is seen as a significant boost for the project.

Pre-construction development work on the much needed CopperString 2.0 transmission line will continue at pace following the Queensland Government’s announcement and backing of the proposal supporting the project to continue its march towards a final investment decision. 
 

About CopperString 2.0

  • $1.5 billion capital expenditure  
  • 1,100 kilometres of overhead high-voltage electricity transmission network  
  • Connecting the North West Minerals Province, centred on Mount Isa and Cloncurry, to the National Electricity Market (NEM) near Townsville
  • Creating hundreds jobs during construction and up to 30 operational jobs
  • Utilising an estimated: 
    • 60,000 tonnes of steel for transmission towers and reinforcement in foundations
    • 125,000 cubic metres of concrete
  • $1.18 million grant from the State Government in August 2019
  • $4.7 million grant from the Federal Government in April 2019, allocated to assist with early works 
  • Being considered for funding under the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility program
Mount Isa Mayor, Cr Danielle Slade looks at plans for CopperString with Commerce North West President Chris Boshoff and MITEZ CEO Glen Graham.

Stanwell Mica Creek Power Station Announces Closure at End of 2020

Mount Isa's 218MW gas-fired Mica Creek Power Station will be placed into cold storage after January 1st 2021.

The power station, located 6 kilometres out of the city centre is owned by Stanwell Corporation, and commenced operation as a coal-fired power station in the 1960's; converting to gas in 2000.

Not connected to the National Electricity Network, Mica Creek Power Station currently supplies electricity to two industrial customers however both customer contracts are due to expire on December 31st 2020 with renewals not foreseen.

Mica Creek Power Station Manager, Paul Smith, said the power station would have required a costly life-extending overhaul in order to supply energy to customers beyond 2020.

"Mica Creek Power Station is unable to compete with more modern power stations in the region," Mr Smith said.

MITEZ 2020 Meeting Plans

It has been a number of months since the last MITEZ General Meeting that was held at Cloncurry on February 14th with Covid-19 lock down restrictions being brought in just one month later. Since then it has been very difficult to plan a date for the next face to face meeting which is expected to be held at Charters Towers.

At a recent meeting of the MITEZ Executive Committee it was decided that until members are able to travel as before, that the next meeting date would be on-hold for another month. In the mean-time the Executive Committee will hold a strategic planning workshop, with a vision for the next five to ten years and will draft an election strategy for the Queensland State election which is to be held on October 31st.

The plan is for the draft Strategic Plan and election strategy to be presented to members at the next General Meeting to be held at Charters Towers.

MITEZ is currently discussing the planning workshop with an experienced facilitator who is expected to contact members for their input into the process over coming weeks; MITEZ will keep members informed.

MITEZ’s Remote Area Projects Submitted to DSDMIP

After the successful and on-time completion of the 2019-20 Hughenden Powerhouse Re-development and North West Queensland Bio-Mass Assessment RAB projects and investing considerable time and effort since the start of the year, MITEZ alongside members identified fifteen project concepts for the 2020-21 round of Remote Area Board Funding. In consultation with funding guidelines and facilitators Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP) these were eventually narrowed down to three submitted for funding consideration. 

North Queensland Cotton Gin Facility

This project will investigate the viability and best location for a cotton gin facility anywhere from Hughenden to Cloncurry or up into the Gulf of Carpentaria. 

Currently there are 8,000 hectares of cotton growing in the north with plans for that to extend to 15,000 hectares next year (up to half irrigated) and up to 45,000 hectares in the next 2-3 years. 
 

Overlanders Way Television Series

MITEZ has partnered with the Overlanders Way group and the MITEZ corridor Councils for the production of a script and business plan for a television series based on the book 'Friday Night Debrief' written by Kylie Asmus.

The aim of the series is promote the events, naturals wonders and adventure of the cities and towns along the Overlanders Way, targeting domestic tourism.

All Councils along the MITEZ corridor and the Overlanders Way Committee have committed to contribute financially to this project. 
 

North West Queensland Rehabilitation and Training Facility

This study will investigate all factors that would influence the feasibility of a North West correctional facility; a facility leveraging off successful regional employment programs and the foreseeable cost savings and improved health outcomes of accommodating people within the region of origin.

Concepts would see the facility in the North West offer training programs in order to provide skilled workers for a variety of jobs in mining, road building, agriculture and local Governments.

Rail Upgrades a Boost for North West Communities

Since the finish of the wet season there has been a lot of activity along the MITEZ corridor with work crews carrying out road and rail upgrades, particularly in the mid-west. 

Richmond Shire Mayor, Cr John Wharton reported that Queensland Rail’s re-sleepering program has been a great boost for the economy in Richmond, with nearly all available accommodation booked out in the town since April with work being carried out on a 9 day on, 5 off work roster.

“Richmond now has over 130 ensuite rooms and at present we need every one of them with the ongoing Queensland Rail Works Program” he said.

A project that has involved the replacement of old existing steel sleepers with heavier concrete sleepers, it has been running for three or four years between the months of March to September.

Due to the success and strength of these new sleepers Queensland Rail advises there are plans to continue next year as well.

Trains are scheduled to run in close succession during work periods to keep disruption to freight movements down to a minimum; the long term project outlooks aiming to improve efficiencies, ensuring greater capacity for the Mount Isa to Townsville line.    
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Our mailing address is:
PO Box 1258
Mount Isa QLD 4825
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MITEZ Inc · 22 West Street · PO Box 1258 · Mount Isa, Queensland 4825 · Australia

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