Regional Queensland has had its fair share of uncertainty and controversy over the last several years. With a steady decline in investment since the peak of the mining boom, the unexpected closure of Queensland Nickel in 2016 and severe weather events affecting the agricultural industry, unemployment rates have soared. By April of this year, regional Queensland’s unemployment rate rose to an unprecedented level of 10.7 per cent, almost four times that of inner Brisbane.
In this post, we look at two projects that look set to make regional Queensland boom and bode well for those in the mining, construction and shipping industries.
Mining project set to revive regional Queensland
But relief may be in sight for the people of regional Queensland, local businesses and the Queensland economy as a whole. After years of hard-fought negotiation with both local government and historic land holders, a huge backlash from environmental and political opponents and millions of dollars spent on legal fees, Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine looks set to move forward. In June this year, Adani announced that its board had given final investment approval for the project, with chairman Gautam Adani declaring pre-construction works will commence in the September quarter of 2017.
Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine looks set to move forward.
Although there has been resistance from some politicians, these objectors appear to be far outnumbered by those in both the local and state governments that support the deal and the investment it would bring into regional Queensland.
“The Carmichael mine project is creating jobs in regional Queensland where they are needed. I welcome further progress on the project since Adani gave it the green light last month,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, speaking in Townsville recently.
The $16.5 billion project, which includes the open-cut and underground coal mine, a 189-kilometre railway, plus significant updates to the Abbot Point port, is expected to produce 60 million tonnes of thermal coal each year. According to an article on mining.com, official estimations are that the Carmichael mine will contribute $2.97 billion each year to Queensland’s economy and has the potential to create 6,400 new jobs: around 2,500 construction positions and 3,900 operational posts.
With multiple other projects already on the drawing board for the region, Adani’s Australian-based Chief Executive, Jeyakumar Janakaraj, believes that the Adani project is just the start for investment in the Galilee coal basin. “More mines will go there because we are building a 100-million-tonne railway and a 120-million-tonne port,” Mr Janakaraj said. One of the companies showing interest in the region, with three projects currently in the pipeline, is another Indian company, GVK, which has partnered with Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart.
Port of Townsville predicted to attract international freight
The mining industry isn’t the only area of growth for Northern Queensland. The Port of Townsville is also set for expansion after the Queensland Government announced $75 million of its budget would be allocated to channel widening at the port.
It is estimated that importing and exporting products to Northern Australia will ultimately become cheaper.
The project is still subject to finalisation of an environmental impact statement and business case assessment, but shipping companies are already seeing the possibilities this project could bring. After returning to the Port of Townsville in April, global shipping line ANL recently announced that starting August 2017 its APR service will now include direct calls into Townsville from South East Asia.
Once the project is complete, the increasing width and depth of the channel will enable it to attract larger vessels carrying more cargo, which will help cement the port as Northern Australia’s premier trade and logistics hub. With projected increases in commercial shipping volumes, it is estimated that importing and exporting products to Northern Australia will ultimately become cheaper. This certainly signals good news for those importing heavy machinery to Australia.
As a result of investment in regional Queensland starting to increase and the possibility of jobs growth in the local market, people’s confidence in the area is beginning to rise.