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A $663 million plan for a fertiliser processing facility near Yabulu outside Townsville has received a boost.

Agripower Australia’s Fertiliser Expansion Project has gained prescribed project status, the State Government announced today.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the proposal could create 490 jobs during construction and 470 ongoing operational jobs.

“Agripower’s amorphous silica is sourced from what is believed to be the world’s largest deposit of the mineral near Greenvale,” she said.

“Agripower believes that a two billion tonne deposit could create a mine life of 200 years.”

Agripower recently completed construction of a processing facility near Charters Towers able to produce 240,000 tonne of fertiliser per year.

That facility is expected to become operational next month, with the first shipment of 5000 tonnes to be exported to Indian from the Port of Townsville in July.

“The completion of the processing facility is good news for Charters Towers and North Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“But I am pleased to see Agripower planning for the future demand for this Queensland resource by looking to develop a $663 million processing facility near Yabulu.

“Each year, Agripower expects to produce one million tonnes of fertiliser from the new facility, to be exported to the world – and to do that with a project life of up to 200 years.

“This can mean local jobs for local skilled workers for generations to come.”

State Development Minister Cameron Dick said prescribed project status enabled Queensland’s independent Coordinator-General to assist the proponent to progress the project efficiently by ensuring timely approvals across all agencies.

Plan involves 45km conveyor and rail line re-opening

A 45km overland conveyer system will need to be constructed to transport the product from the mine site north-west of Greenvale, from where it is proposed to be transported by train through the reopening of the 220km Greenvale to Yabulu rail corridor.

The new rail line is proposed to be a multi-user rail operation that could potentially be used for new and existing industries within the region and further reduce reliance on road transport.

The product will then be processed in a new facility around Yabulu, before being exported as Agrisilica from the Port of Townsville for use by international customers.

The next three-year phase of the expansion project will involve identifying a suitable site for the plant, detailed engineering and design phase starting in May 2019, including pursuing the relevant project approvals.

For construction to commence in 2023, the approvals processes need to start now, with the multi-user rail line and overland conveyer system expected to take 24 months and create 330 new jobs.

The new Yabulu processing facility is expected to take 18 months to construct and create 160 new jobs.

Special project status for $663m fertiliser proposal