Interim Report commands respect for Far North


Consultation begins in Far North Queensland to put infrastructure investment plans in place for the next 50 years

Interim Report commands respect for Far North
Interim Report commands respect for Far North

By Anna Game-Lopata | February 28, 2012

One hundred supply chain industry stakeholders yesterday attended the launch of
an Interim Report for a 50-year Infrastructure Plan in Far North Queensland.

Delegates to the launch recognised the national significance of the $15 billion supply chain between Townsville and Mt Isa, which is expected to grow between $44 billion and $84 billion in the next 50 years.

At the launch, the collaborative initiative, driven by government and private industry reported its initial port, road and rail findings as the first stage in a plan to invite local and overseas investment.

It revealed finds the current value of transport in the chain, which includes a wide range of commodities, cattle, agriculture and mining products and services to be $525 million.

This is expected to rise between $1.4 and $2.4 billion by 2050.

A year in the making, the 50-year Freight Infrastructure Plan combines the hard facts of existing supply chain bottlenecks and challenges with demand projections for the future, to connect one of the world’s richest sources of mineral wealth to the global market.

The plan presents a commodity forecast model, accurate freight estimates and an infrastructure assessment plan for the corridor from the North West Minerals Province to the Port of Townsville, a total land area of 271,732 square kilometres.

Driven by the demand of private industry and supported by local, state and federal bodies, including an initial contribution of $60,000 from the Queensland government, it is the first such endeavour by any region in Australia.

It is the brainchild of the Mount Isa to Townsville Economic Development Zone (MITEZ), an economic development body spanning seven local government areas from Mount Isa to Cloncurry, McKinlay and Townsville.

The data was collated by a MITEZ-appointed collaboration of organisations, the Northern and North West Queensland Supply Chain Working Group (NNWQ).

NNWQ Chair Tracey Lines says the working group, comprising representatives from Infrastructure Australia, Queensland Treasury, the Port of Townsville and resources companies Xstrata and BHP Billiton among others, put aside political and commercial vested interests to undertake the research as a regional response to Infrastructure Australia’s Land Freight Strategy, released last February 2011.

"The diversity of the supply chain has resulted in its fragmentation, which is a key issue to address in the 50-year plan," Lines says.

Lines says the Interim 50 Year Infrastructure Plan isn’t about us asking for government handouts.

"It’s about presenting credible commercial investment case studies to attract public, private and foreign investment to our region," she says.

The Plan, which Lines says will be revised each year, will highlight the MITEZ region as a source of attractive, viable investment opportunity on the global stage.

"We hope the plan will bring the MITEZ region to global prominence as a freight infrastructure investment destination and provide visibility to individual producers in the region," she says.

"We also hope it will be the catalyst to rectify under-investment and capacity constraints within the region’s productive supply chains."

While the 50 Year Plan initially focuses on ports, road and rail, later projects will incorporate water and telecommunications infrastructure for the region.

Following six weeks of consultation with stakeholders, the Final Report is expected to be launched in April.

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