Qld to spend $5b to link northwest to the national grid
The Queensland government's "nation-leading" plan to invest $5 billion to link the mineral-rich northwest with the national grid has been praised by crossbenchers and has tentative support from the opposition.
The state government will take over private company CuString's planned CopperString 2.0 project to build a high-voltage line from Townsville to the northwest, which holds vast copper, zinc, lead, silver and phosphate deposits.
The latter is a lucrative component of fertiliser, while the region also holds deposits of rare earth minerals needed to make smartphones and renewable energy parts.
Premier Annastasia Palaszcuk says the line's capacity between Townsville and Hughenden will be increased more than the original plan to allow future renewable energy projects to connect to the grid.
State-owned transmission provider Powerlink will start construction next year, with the project due to be completed by 2029.
"We will build it and the jobs will come," Ms Palaszczuk said in Townsville on Tuesday.
"This is nation-leading, it is nation-leading infrastructure."
Ms Palaszczuk said the project will make power more affordable for consumers in the northwest, which will attract investors to the region.
"The companies will be utilising the power, and that's what you've been lacking in North Queensland, and that's what we are building," she added.
Katter's Australian Party politicians, who've campaigned for the transmission line to be built since 2003, praised the premier's announcement.
"It's about unlocking the underground wealth we have been gifted in the west and building opportunity off the back of that blessing," KAP state leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said in a statement.
"The North West Minerals Province has amongst the highest industrial power prices in the world but now, with the building of the CopperString line imminent, this will no longer be our burden to bear."
Federal KAP MP Bob Katter said the investment will expand the northwest minerals sector with nationwide benefits.
"It's not just my electorate, it's the Australian and Queensland economies that will benefit," Mr Katter said.
Queensland's opposition Liberal National Party have also thrown their support behind the project ahead of next year's state election.
However, LNP energy spokesman Pat Weir said he was concerned CopperString's 2020 price tag of $1.8 billion had more than doubled to $5 billion in a little over two years.
Mr Weir said the taxpayers deserved a full itemised rundown of the project's costs as they will be paying for it.
"We've seen cost blowouts before with this government," he told reporters in Townsville.
"That is the biggest fear with this project and we're already $3 billion over price."
In January the government indicated it was keen to take over the project after CopperString 2.0 was given federal approval in December.
That marked a major milestone following years of multiple state and federal election promises over the years.