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Plans to build a 105km underground pipeline from the Burdekin River to Bowen have been boosted with $5 million in federal funding for a detailed business case.

Bowen Pipeline Company is behind the $160 million proposal, which could bring up to 100 gigalitres to agricultural and primary industry customers in the region every year.

“This is a concept that has been discussed since construction of the Burdekin Falls Dam 40 years ago and, given the enormous opportunity open to horticulture, agriculture and aquaculture, and the need for a reliable and secure source of water, now is the time to make it happen for the communities of the Bowen region,” Bowen Pipeline Company director Sean Brown said.

Majority owned by local growers, the group aims to break ground for the Bowen Pipeline Project in 2023.

The Bowen Pipeline Project funding was part of a $6.9 million pledge towards bringing more water supply and security in northern Queensland through the National Water Grid Fund.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said the remaining $1.9 million would deliver the detailed business case required for the Burdekin Haughton Water Supply Scheme Modernisation project.

“This business case will consider the viability of new or upgraded infrastructure in the scheme, which will have the potential to recover 15 to 20 gigalitres of additional water that can be allocated to local growers and farmers who can put it to great use,” Mr Christensen said.

“It could also reduce the inflows to the groundwater table by up to 3,000 megalitres a year, better protecting the quality of that precious natural resource.

“The Burdekin Haughton scheme already supplies water for irrigation customers in the lower Burdekin region, backing local businesses and farmers including those producing our famous mangoes and sugar cane.

“Abundant, reliable water makes our region tick, which is why we’re work to put in place the water infrastructure that will allow our farmers and businesses to grow into the future.”

The Australian Government’s $3.5 billion National Water Grid Fund is investing in 70 construction projects and more than 60 business cases nationwide.

The Morris Group has officially started construction on a $80 million luxury hotel project on vacant land adjacent to The Ville Resort—Casino in Townsville.

Pilings are to be installed over the next eight weeks for the yet-to-be-named hotel development.

Owner Chris Morris said the project had been in the pipeline for several years with a lot of time invested in ensuring the final concept and design was just right.

“This location is truly something special – the views are some of the best you’ll see anywhere in the world

– so we wanted to make sure that what we built here was going to be worthy of its surrounds,” he said.

“I’m pretty confident that what we’ve come up with is going to put Townsville and the broader North Queensland region firmly on the radar for leisure travellers from all over Australia and abroad.”

Prime will act as principal contractor for the project, with construction due to be completed in mid 2023.

The Ville chief executive officer Michael Jones said it was exciting for The Ville and the Townsville community to see ground broken on a project that was set to help stimulate the local economy and put North Queensland on the map as a luxury travel destination.”

“The hotel is going to be something truly special that Townsville hasn’t seen before,” he said.

The hotel will feature 132 hotel rooms, each with their own private balconies taking advantage of views over the Coral Sea to Magnetic Island and Townsville’s iconic beachfront and Castle Hill.

There will also be a rooftop tapas bar and infinity pool, a fine dining restaurant, day spa, seaside boardwalks and ground floor Japanese inspired restaurant and bar.

Future plans for the precinct also include a superyacht marina.

Morris Group hopes to take advantage of an influx of superyachts in the North Queensland region which currently bypass Townsville because there’s nowhere for them to dock.

Image: Site work has started for a new hotel development at Townsville. Photo courtesy Mendi Group.

Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries plans to build the world’s largest electrolyser, renewable industry and equipment factory at Gladstone.

FFI expects to invest “up to or in excess of $1 billion” in the project as orders firm for electrolysers and other green industry equipment.

The first stage of the development, announced by FFI and the Queensland Government on Sunday, is expected to cost up to $114 million to bring online, with the first electrolysers scheduled for production in early 2023.

FFI will build the plant at Aldoga within the Gladstone State Development Area with an initial capacity to manufacture up to two gigawatts (GW) of electrolysers annually.

It is initially expected to create 120 construction jobs and 53 operational jobs, with jobs numbers to exceed 300 over the life of the project.

Construction will begin in February 2022, pending final approvals.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the partnership between FFI and the State Government would see Gladstone become a world-leading hub for the manufacture of electrolysers – vital to the production of renewable hydrogen.

“This project will put Gladstone on the map as a world leader in the renewable-hydrogen supply chain,” she said

FFI said the Global Green Energy Manufacturing Centre (GEM) would be the first step in a series of projects that would continue to transform regional Australia through green industry manufacturing and energy production centres.

GEM will be delivered in specialist production lines according to the requirements of FFI and its customers, including the manufacture of wind turbines, long-range electric cabling, solar photovoltaic cells, electrolysers and associated infrastructure.

Stage one of the six-stage project will establish Australia’s first multi-gigawatt-scale electrolyser factory, with an initial capacity of 2 gigawatts (GW) per annum – more than doubling current global production.

Fortescue also plans to establish its first Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) in Queensland at GEM, in addition to Trade Up and Leadership and Excellence programs.

FFI chairman and founder, Dr Andrew Forrest said, “As GEM develops according to FFI’s own requirements and other customer needs, manufacturing will come roaring back to regional Australia, creating many thousands of jobs.

“Fortescue is again ahead of the curve and we are immensely proud to be pioneering a Global Green Energy Manufacturing Centre in Gladstone.

“This initiative is a critical step in Fortescue’s transition from a highly successful pure play iron ore producer, to an even more successful green renewables and resources powerhouse.”

Queensland’s other recent hydrogen industry initiatives include the formation of a consortium, which includes generator Stanwell and Japan’s largest hydrogen supplier Iwatani, proposing to export $4.2 billion in renewable hydrogen from Gladstone.

Sumitomo Corporation has also formalised its partnership with Gladstone Ports Corporation, Gladstone Regional Council, CQUniversity Australia and Australian Gas Infrastructure Group to develop Australia’s first hydrogen ecosystem in Central Queensland.

In Townsville, the Queensland Government is working with Sun Metals on their immediate plans to use hydrogen in their refinery operations and trucking fleet and their ambitions to move zinc refinery operations to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2040.

Hydrogen export facilities are also being investigated at a large number of Queensland’s ports including the Port of Gladstone, Port of Townsville and Port of Hay Point, south of Mackay.

Image: FFI chairman and founder Dr Andrew Forrest with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Gladstone.

Copper Resources Australia is on track to kick off mining at the Rocklands copper operation in North-West Queensland this month.

The company said it had already produced the first copper concentrate from stockpiled material at the previously mothballed mine after work throughout this year to redesign and commission the site’s crushing and flotation plants.

General manager for people and business support Sarah Barter said it was building up to a workforce of 175 by the end of the year.

The bulk of the 100-plus recruits to date were drawn from the Cloncurry, Mount Isa, Townsville and Cairns regions, she said.

Copper Resources Australia took over the troubled site in December 2020, more than two years after operations were suspended under former owner CuDeco, which went into liquidation in May 2020.

The company comes under the Mount Cuthbert Group, which also runs the Mount Cuthbert mine (previously known as the Leichhardt project).

It expects to invest $52 million into the Rocklands operation, 17km west of Cloncurry, in 2021 and $95 million in 2022.

Chief executive officer Stewart Robinson said the significant investment in the site had ensured substantial economic benefits to Cloncurry and North-West Queensland.

This included local employment, local business development either through direct supply or indirectly, civil and infrastructure improvements.

“The objective for the Rocklands site is to change and improve on the previous CuDeco operations and management strategies, through low debt, efficiencies, reducing operational and management costs,” Mr Robinson said.

“CRA is fully aware of the challenges that are before us so that we can deliver the very best in outcomes for the shareholders, investors and at the same time enhancing the liveability and economic viability of the Cloncurry shire and North-West Queensland.”

More than $4 million in federal funding will help kickstart Mackay’s Riverfront Revitalisation Project, enhancing the city’s tourism offering and liveability.

Federal MP George Christensen said the work was among four projects in Mackay and the Whitsundays to share more than $4.3 million in funding under Round 5 of the Building Better Regions Fund.

“I am very pleased to announce that more than $4.1 million in funding under this tourism-focused round of the Building Better Regions Fund will go to Mackay’s Riverfront Revitalisation Project,” Mr Christensen said.

“This is a component of the Mackay Waterfront Priority Development Area (PDA) and it will deliver the first stage of revitalisation works within the riverside project area.

“I am a strong supporter of Mackay Regional Council’s vision for the Waterfront PDA and I have repeatedly advocated for the project in Canberra.

“This is about re-orienting the city to the water – the river and the sea – and in the process building on our tourism offering and liveability. 

“It was one of the final things I wanted to leave the city with, to finish off my time as the Federal MP – a final gift if you like – to help diversify our economy by boosting our tourism offering.”
Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said it was a very exciting day for Mackay, with the Federal Government’s $4.1 million the key to starting the $9 million project.

“We’re putting in about $5 million to kickstart this whole Waterfront project,’’ Cr Williamson said.

“We’re hoping we’ll get the tenders out by the end of this month, which means, hopefully, we’ll see early in 2022 a start on this project.

“What that means is from about the area in front of the Fish Market right back to Paxton’s becomes a huge public realm component.”

The former Don Daniels and Marias Donkey restaurant and bar building over the river will also be upgraded and made safe. A $2 million pontoon will also be built as part of the project.

“We are now delivering on what we’ve been saying for years – we need to celebrate this fantastic river we’ve got,’’ Cr Williamson said. “It’s  great for our community and great for tourism.’’

Image: Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen with Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson at the Pioneer River.

Hydrogen Utility has moved its H2-Hub Gladstone green hydrogen and ammonia project a step closer with the signing of a letter of intent with Gladstone Ports Corporation.

Hydrogen Utility (H2U) founder and chief executive officer Dr Attilio Pigneri said the Port of Gladstone was in an ideal location for green ammonia exports and would create an exciting hub in the global transition to decarbonised shipping fuels.

“We see great potential in this project driving the global transition to a new internationally tradeable, decarbonised energy,” Dr Pigneri said.

The proposed $1.6 billion H2-Hub is set to be Queensland’s first, export-oriented green hydrogen and ammonia manufacturing facility, using 100 per cent renewable energy from solar and wind developments.

The two-stage project is expected to drive more than $4 billion dollars in investment and create hundreds of jobs.

A 171ha site has been secured in the Yarwun State Development Area (SDA) under a 
GPC chief operating officer Craig Walker confirmed a letter of intent had been signed between GPC and H2U to advance discussions on ammonia export facilities.

“Hydrogen is an exciting opportunity for the region and GPC is readying to position Queensland into the global markets,” Mr Walker said.

“As well as discussions with H2U, GPC is working with a number of other proponents to facilitate hydrogen trade in the region.”

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni, who is opening the CQH2 Hydrogen Forum on Friday, said renewable hydrogen was a multi-billion dollar opportunity that would create decent, secure jobs for Queenslanders, particularly in regional areas like Gladstone.

“We know Queenslanders have what it takes to create new industry,” Mr de Brenni said.

“Gladstone is a powerhouse that was at the heart of creating our LNG export industry and can do it again with renewable hydrogen, with new, decarbonised industry and the jobs for Queenslanders.”Sale of Land Agreement with the Queensland Minister for Economic Development (MEDQ).

Image: GPC chief operating officer Craig Walker and Hydrogen Utility (H2U) founder and chief executive officer Dr Attilio Pigneri at Gladstone.