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Fixing the railway line and getting access to cheap power were the major lessons learned from the Townsville Enterprise road trip from Townsville to Mount Isa.
Townsville Enterprise CEO Patricia O'Callaghan and Director of Policy and Investment Wayde Chiesa met with leaders from major energy operations including Hughenden's Kennedy Park, South32 Cannington mine, Incitec Pivot, MMG Dugald River and Glencore Mount Isa as well as local government representatives, regional chambers of commerce and community representatives along the corridor.
Townsville Enterprise CEO Patricia O'Callaghan said the road trip was all about putting the spotlight on the North West Minerals Province and showcase the region's opportunities and challenges as well as connecting it back to Townsville's story.
"It's all about jobs. Townsville is the major city in the region but when the North West is fine, North Queensland is fine," Ms O'Callaghan said.
"But it is only when working together that we are going to get some fundamental changes to fixing the issues out here which have been around for a long time."
Ms O'Callaghan said the big challenge for the resource sector was around cost of power and transport infrastructure.
"The issue is affordability of access to reliable power as well as the cost of the rail and if we can address the high cost of these inputs it will allow them to become more cost competitive on a global scale," she said.
Ms O'Callaghan is supporting CopperString and its promise of connecting the North West to the National Electricity Market.
"There's wealth sitting in the ground companies and new investors can access and cheaper power will unlock a lot of that potential," she said.
As for rail Ms O'Callaghan admitted the state government had done a lot of work particularly after the 2019 floods but more needed to be done.
"Users believe it is still not as efficient as it should be and it is also not cost effective," she said.
"These companies are telling me that when they do their modelling some times it is cheaper to put their product on the road so we need to address the cost of rail or make it more efficient for these companies to transport."
Ms O'Callaghan said they would be wrapping up their findings from the tour into a brief to be sent to all levels of government.
"You can't just treat the regions in the north in isolation, what happens in Mount Isa has impact in Townsville and vice versa," she said.
"We need to make sure we are linking it all together and also painting a really positive picture for the region, because if we can get these fundamentals fixed we can advocate a solution that will turbo-charge the economy and do some of the heavy lifting to get out of the (COVID) economic crisis."
This article first appeared on www.northweststar.com.au
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