What of the Mt Isa to Tennant Creek railway

 
  Jaza613 Beginner

Would be a good improvement to raise the Barkly Hwy up on a causeway, but IMHO it will never be completely flood-proof, when the wet weather hits hard up in the gulf country, nothing's invincible.

I discussed this, as well as some ideas for more infrastructure in this region - including a Mt Isa to Tennant Creek railway, and a sealed road through the whole Cape York Peninsula - in this new article on my blog:

http://greenash.net.au/thoughts/2015/03/five-long-distance-and-long-way-off-australian-infrastructure-links/

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  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Topic split from a very old discussion that long ago stopped.

Barkly Highway: 48 stranded as NT floods cause chaos
https://www.railpage.com.au/f-p1967091.htm#1967091

Me do not see them ever building the railway, and if they did, SG or QR gauge ?
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Topic split from a very old discussion that long ago stopped.

Barkly Highway: 48 stranded as NT floods cause chaos
https://www.railpage.com.au/f-p1967091.htm#1967091

Me do not see them ever building the railway, and if they did, SG or QR gauge ?
dthead
If there was ever a link built between Tennant Creek and Mt Isa, there would need to be sufficient freight to make it viable to begin with.
As for gauge ...... it would depend on where the freight is destined, and why build it as NG when you'd need to then tranship goods at the junction at Tennant Creek?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Why build it standard gauge if they have to transship goods at Mt Isa? The most likely source of freight will be large phosphate deposits west of Mt Isa - one proposed mine has a production capacity of over 5-million tonnes per annum. If the miners decide to export via Townsville (which is closer) the line will be narrow gauge, and export via Darwin will mean standard gauge. A rail link between Tennant Creek and Mt Isa of either gauge opens up a potential new intermodal route between North Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. North Queensland's economy is nearly the same size as South Australia's and a considerable amount of freight moves west from North Queensland or east from the Northern Territory and beyond all by road at the moment.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Why build it standard gauge if they have to transship goods at Mt Isa? The most likely source of freight will be large phosphate deposits west of Mt Isa - one proposed mine has a production capacity of over 5-million tonnes per annum. If the miners decide to export via Townsville (which is closer) the line will be narrow gauge, and export via Darwin will mean standard gauge. A rail link between Tennant Creek and Mt Isa of either gauge opens up a potential new intermodal route between North Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. North Queensland's economy is nearly the same size as South Australia's and a considerable amount of freight moves west from North Queensland or east from the Northern Territory and beyond all by road at the moment.
Sulla1
Upgrade to Townsville to Mount Isa railway to standard gauge !
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

I certainly wouldn't argue the economic benefits of standard gauging the 1000km Mt Isa line, but finding someone to fund it, and gauge convert a couple thousand specialised wagons owned by three different companies...that would be a challenge, and quite probably impossible in the current political/deficit adverse climate.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
I certainly wouldn't argue the economic benefits of standard gauging the 1000km Mt Isa line, but finding someone to fund it, and gauge convert a couple thousand specialised wagons owned by three different companies...that would be a challenge, and quite probably impossible in the current political/deficit adverse climate.
Sulla1
They'd have to do both (Tennant Creek-Mt Isa railway + gauge conversion Mt Isa Line) as a project... Certainly a lower value proposition than other big freight projects like Inland Rail and the Mildura-Transcontinental Link.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

They'd have to do both (Tennant Creek-Mt Isa railway + gauge conversion Mt Isa Line) as a project... Certainly a lower value proposition than other big freight projects like Inland Rail and the Mildura-Transcontinental Link.
LancedDendrite

Considering the Mt Isa line now carries more tonnage than most of the Transcontinental line (Crystal Brook to Tarcoola may still carry more) - which probably makes the Mt Isa line a contender for the uncelebrated title of the of the being the highest tonnage line in the national rail network recognised by the Auslink paper in 2004 - it would be quite likely the Tennant Creek-Mt Isa link has substantially more economic value than the Mildura-Broken Hill link. However, given its remote location and the absence of any economic modelling other than that done by potential phosphate miners, I doubt its current value or potential has ever been explored by the rail industry or government. The sheer scale of the road traffic using the Flinders, Warrego, Landsborough and Barkly Highways bound for the Northern Territory or Western Australia is evidence enough of the untapped freight potential even without mining between Mt Isa and Tennant Creek...whether that freight is rail convertible with the existing gauge issues is another question.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
The prospective sale of Port Darwin for $500m may have implications for the Tennant-Isa link.

The buyer is a private Chinese company called "Landbridge" (of all things) and they propose to spend $200m upgrading the Port of Darwin to increase capacity.

See to-day's Financial Review.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Any news as to whatever happened to the scoping study for this?  I'm assuming its possibly not for public release hence I cant find it anywhere?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Try the 'cookery section  'PIE IN THE SKY' !
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
I don't disagree - still curious to see what the study says though.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I don't disagree - still curious to see what the study says though.
james.au
One of those dream projects that has no justification and will never pay for itself. It got more energy during the boom because the Qld govt was lagging on spending on the GNR, but mining boom is all over.

If the two gauges were the same, maybe but thats a distant maybe
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
I think the Iron Boomerang has as much chance as this idea.

https://www.railpage.com.au/f-p2017791.htm#2017791

Regards,
David Head

PS I do not think that proposal will  work either !
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Like I said, I don't disagree - im looking to see what the report says.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Ive done a little digging on this.  The report has not been publicly released, though the NT Chief Minister is on hansard describing it and next steps.  Looks like it has the political support to push it forward, I suspect at least to the stage of economic assessment.  The department noted that both governments were going to progress to another study.  This was in June last year.

Source: http://notes.nt.gov.au/lant/hansard/hansardd.nsf/WebFullTextTranscript/08F9AD630CDD1FF469257FD3003563A6?opendocument .  Refer about half way down.


On 11 December last year I signed an MOU with Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Queensland Premier, to foster a closer working relationship on the major cross-border infrastructure, such as the Tennant Creek to Mount Isa rail.  

We set up a steering committee to progress that agreement. The steering committee is jointly agreed to commission a strategic options paper that will consider how best to facilitate private sector investment in the Townsville to Darwin transport corridor, in particular Tennant Creek to Mount Isa.

The paper will be commissioned jointly by the Commonwealth, Queensland and Northern Territory governments. The Commonwealth is now putting in up to half a million dollars, with the payment to come from the $5m previously announced to be available to support north Australian rail study, so that is part of our north Australia paper. The Queensland and Territory governments are each contributing $250 000 towards the cost of the paper.  

A coordinated investment approach for the entire corridor will ensure broader public benefits from the project are maximised and efficient capital expenditure decisions to grow northern Australia are made.  

The Commonwealth government has also committed up to $1m for technical assessments of the broader rail corridor. We have already spent $30 000 on this and have committed up to another $100 000. What we have done internally has – we have put a consultant on and our first report has come forward. That report came back to me two months ago, roughly speaking, and it identified what we need to do to make that rail line happen.  

I have said today that there is only one party that can make this happen, and I firmly believe that. No one believed we would get the pipeline up and running and no one believes we can get the rail up and running, but we will.  

You are right talking about the gauge. There are different gauges – it is one of the great failures in the Federation of Australia. The gauge in the Territory is different to Queensland, that is, the width of the rail line, for those who do not understand gauges.  

Let me go back one point; we are going to a second stage paper, which we will release publicly in November. What the paper has shown is that we should not build a line between Tennant and Mount Isa; we should build a railway line between Tennant Creek and Cloncurry. It shows that you get better efficiencies by going to Cloncurry, which is just a bit past Mount Isa. It shows that the railway line between Mount Isa and Townsville has capacity to take on more cargo.

We talk about MTPA, million tons per annum. The rail line between Mount Isa and Townsville has the capacity to take on another million tons per annum. We are mindful of politics here and we know the Townsville port is critical for employment and economic development in Queensland. We know that is the gateway guiding through the Great Barrier Reef, as dangerous as that is for those ships and one of Australia’s natural assets. We know that the Queensland government does not want to see trade taken from the Townsville port. They are political reasons, strategies and purposes.

We know there is a million tonnes per annum capacity on that line, so So if we want to start a railway line between Cloncurry and Darwin, but through Tennant Creek, we acknowledge we need to see that one million tonnes per annum filled to Townsville. It is only then that you can start working on the other line.  

Excuse my numbers being rounded for a moment; I do not have the report in front of me and I am going off recollection. We recognise that to make the line viable from an economic point of view you need to get an additional five million tonnes per annum between Mount Isa and Tennant Creek, which is on top of the one million tonnes per annum. This means we need to get six million tonnes per annum cargo on that railway line to start to get the economics of the rail working.  

Those economics are based on it costing about 6.5 cents per tonne per kilometre to move that cargo. All of that equates to a cost of somewhere between $2.1bn to $2.4bn to firm up the easement, do the geotechs, all your legals and consultancy costs, build the rail, build the sleepers and put the rolling stock on including the engines and the carriages - $2.1bn to $2.4bn. We know that from day one you are not going to have six million tonnes per annum – one million going that way and five million going that way - from day one.  

So a rail project between Tennant Creek and Cloncurry needs to be a lost lead, that is, someone needs to put the money in and lose money for 10 to 15 years, or however long it takes to make it become viable. We know on that pathway there are opportunities such as the Wonarah Phosphate opportunity contract along the Barkly Highway. There are cargo opportunities and a whole lot of different things. But we know someone will have to lose money up front and make it on the back end.  

For that reason, a rail project of that magnitude will probably be like the Darwin to Alice rail line which has a 99-year lease over that land underneath the corridor. It will probably be a similar thing, a 99-year project. It will have to be someone prepared to put a lot of money up front and take a loss for a long period of time, but the time is right now to make it happen. There is currently an oversupply of rail line in the world. There is an oversupply of rail steel and rail rolling stock in the world right now. If ever you are going to build a rail project, with a downturn right now in rail being built on a world-wide basis, now is the time to do it.

Our report in November will give us the right answer. If we are prepared to seek investment from around Australia and the world, we will get this started within the next four years.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Would you convert Mount Isa to Townsville to SG?
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
I have no idea.  The whole thing would be easier if it was.

Here is a hypothetical - and id think Sulla would have the answer - if Mt Isa-Townsville was standardised (with the necessary DG into the port as required), what existing NG traffic would be impacted?  

IF the Mt Isa-Townsville line was standardised, you would wonder why they wouldnt also do the North Coast Line too....  Oh the billions!!!
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Converting Mt Isa to Townsville will add up to another $3-billion to the project...an added cost that would almost certainly scupper the whole build. A break of gauge is going to occur somewhere, moving that break of gauge to Townsville is unlikely to improve the project's economics given cross border trade (all road) through the Mt Isa gateway is only about 400,000-tonnes per annum at the moment.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Converting Mt Isa to Townsville will add up to another $3-billion to the project...an added cost that would almost certainly scupper the whole build. A break of gauge is going to occur somewhere, moving that break of gauge to Townsville is unlikely to improve the project's economics given cross border trade (all road) through the Mt Isa gateway is only about 400,000-tonnes per annum at the moment.
Sulla1

That said the plan must be for a dual gauge yard at Mount Isa?  Is the traffic being courted from Mount Isa to Darwin and vice versa?  What are the advantages over using Townsville?

Has any work been done on using SG form the southern states to Mount Isa and return say Adelaide and the West?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

The only advantage Mt Isa has over Townsville as a break of gauge point is saving around $3-billion to extend the standard gauge further east. And while standard gauging the entire corridor to Townsville makes sense, if the new Tennant Creek to Mt Isa line costs - say $2-billion - the NT and QLD governments are likely to decide that's all they want to spend - and adding more costs on is likely to kill the project.

Most of the cross-border freight is road freight from Brisbane to Darwin via the Warrego Highway A2 corridor. Rail freight from Brisbane to Mt Isa has to go the long way via Townsville, but there is some doing that. Containerisation makes Mt Isa an equally effective break of gauge point as Townsville without additional rail construction, and at the moment the only real tonnage potential for the Mt Isa/Tennant Creek line is several proposed phosphate mines and the concentrates originating in South Australia and the NT heading to Mt Isa for processing. Mt Isa remains 600km closer to Townsville than Darwin, so it's hard to see how much existing mineral traffic from the North West could actually be captured competively by the Darwin Port...particularly when each of those mineral producers has built their own train and ship handling facilities at the Townsville Port.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Maybe this project makes a lot of sense so what timeframe is the government talking ?
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
What are the concentrates that are processed in Mt Isa and where are they coming from Sulla?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Glencore runs seperate lead and copper smelters in Mt Isa, plus a copper refinery in Townsville. Korea Zinc runs the Sun Metals zinc refinery in Townsville. In recent months Glencore has been smelting concentrates from Prominent Hill at Mt Isa (GWA rails the concentrate containers to Tennant Creek for road delivery to Mt Isa), but these aren't big tonnages...certainly not enough to warrant a new line, but they would probably use the line if it was already there.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Why would you rail from Mt Isa to Darwin when Mt Isa to Townsville is nearly half the distance?

The Mt Isa to Darwin line will never fly because so much other work has to be done to make it viable.

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