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Aerial Drone of NSS @ Work

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Townsville Enterprise says the $24 million Hells Gates Dam Business Case is advancing well, after completing the majority of field work including geotechnical drilling.

In the six months to the end of 2020, 15 boreholes were drilled at the proposed dam site and weir sites, with a maximum depth of 173m at the dam site.

The cores are being analysed to inform dam and weir designs.

Head contractor SMEC engaged Saxon Drilling, Drill Power, SJ Drilling, and North Coast Drilling for this geotechnical work, while Brabon Contractors has been engaged for civil work.

Townsville Enterprise is acting as project manager for the detailed business case, expected to be complete by April 2022.

It comes after a $2.2 million feasibility study in 2018 confirmed the viability of the $5.35 billion irrigated agricultural and power project on the upper Burdekin River.

The Federal Government has since committed $54 million towards Phase 1 of the project, which includes $30 million for the first stage of Big Rocks Weir at Charters Towers (an amount matched by the State) and $24 million for the detailed business case for Hells Gates Dam.

Interim chief executive officer Wayde Chiesa said the Hells Gates irrigation scheme consisted of not only the dam, but a a series of three weirs downstream with pumping stations and channels that would open up agricultural land in the region.

“A major pumped hydro storage scheme also has the potential to deliver green sustainable and reliable energy at peak periods of demand,” he said.

“The Hells Gates business case has made considerable progress with geotechnical drilling now complete, progression of field works to fulfill a comprehensive environmental impact statement which will comply with State and Commonwealth guidelines, continuation of cultural heritage engagement – which includes working closely and respectfully with the traditional owners of the land, and completion of the Hells Gates pumped storage feasibility report.

“This is North Queensland’s opportunity to deliver a nation-building project that will provide a secure and reliable water supply, create thousands of jobs, export growth and opportunities for the region and the nation.”