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The State Government has taken another step to back the $1.7 billion CopperString 2.0 project, with an agreement to underwrite additional development costs as it heads towards its proposed 2021 construction start date.

The high-voltage 1100km transmission line is expected to support more than 750 jobs during construction and will help further open up the North West Minerals Province.

Across North Queensland the project has the potential to deliver another 3500 jobs and an additional $154 billion in minerals production out to 2050.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the North West had more than half a trillion dollars in critical new economy minerals needed for batteries and renewables.

“I don’t just want to see these new economy minerals mined in Queensland, I want to see the batteries made here as well because that means more stable full-time manufacturing jobs,” she said.

“This exciting CopperString 2.0 project offers hundreds of jobs in construction and will support potentially thousands of jobs through new economic development. 

“Lower electricity costs in this region will support mining and minerals processing jobs for decades to come.”

Under the implementation agreement completed with the proponent CooperString last week, the government will underwrite additional multi-million-dollar development costs, including completing the environmental impact study presently underway.

It was announced during a visit to Mount Isa, where Ms Palaszczuk also highlighted the role of recent State support in assisting the ongoing operations of the Glencore Mount Isa copper smelter, as well as the Townsville copper refinery and manufacturer Incitec Pivot.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said the latest agreement would take CopperString through to a final investment decision and potential construction commencement in mid-2021.

It follows a commitment in May for a $14.8 million injection to nudge the CopperString 2.0 power project towards lift-off as part of the State’s COVID-19 fightback measures and a commitment of $1.18 million last year to help the proponents develop their business case.

CopperString director Joseph O’Brien said the Government’s financial support to date had allowed the project to continue investing in preconstruction works, with businesses and employees engaged across North Queensland and in Brisbane.

“The signing of the agreement is a critical commitment from the Queensland Government to the project, and a valuable confidence boost for the minerals and clean-energy projects looking to utilise the CopperString network between Townsville and Mount Isa,” he said.

CopperString is also expected to announce in coming days that it has signed Development Support Agreements with five foundation customers to continue work through the development phase: Dugald River mine operator MMG, manufacturer Incitec Pivot, Glencore’s Queensland Metals, New Century Resources and Chinova Resources.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the progress of CopperString 2.0 was part of the Resources Industry Recovery Agenda presented to the Government by QRC-AMEC in June.

Mr Macfarlane said the Queensland Government’s announcement of an implementation agreement followed the Australian Government’s commitment in its Budget last night to provide funding to progress a final investment decision for the project.