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THE first of the recently constructed 1km bulk mineral trains rumbled down the tracks from Cloncurry last week with its load of magnetite destined for Townsville.
The occasion was the result of an agreement between Queensland Rail (QR), Pacific National and Xstrata Copper which will see trains carrying magnetite running through Queensland for the first time.
The agreement allows QR and Pacific National to transport magnetite concentrate produced at Xstrata's Ernest Henry Mining operation for the next 10 years.
Transport Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said the agreement paved the way for increased efficiency and business growth along the Mount Isa line, with 160 employment positions in the region to be created from the arrangement.
"This historic move will allow magnetite to be transported by longer, more efficient trains, increasing tonnage capacity on the Mt Isa line," she said.
Ms Palaszczuk said QR has already invested an estimated $1 million to upgrade Partington Yard in Stuart to accommodate the 1km-long trains.
"A facility is required to break up the trains into smaller lengths of 750m or less, allowing for access through to the Port of Townsville," she said.
General manager for Xstrata Copper, Townsville, Mark Roberts, said that the agreement will provide a solid deal for all involved in the region.
"The agreement will increase efficiency in getting the product from the mine out to the Asian markets of China and Japan, and will in turn provide an increase in export dollars back to North Queensland.
QR CEO Paul Scurrah said that the investment by QR in the Mt Isa line has cost around $100m, but will allow for increased mineral transport, and be capable of handling long-term growth into the future.
"The agreement we have reached with Xstrata and Pacific National will allow the North's mineral-mining industry to sustain growth and productivity down the line," Mr Scurrah said.
General manager for Pacific National Queensland, David Quinn, said the agreement marks the first use of the 1km trains in the North, and he's confidant operations will run smoothly and efficiently.
Mr Quinn said that on average, the trains will make 2.5 trips per week from the port in Townsville to Cloncurry and back.
He said that Pacific National's effort and hard work were vindicated after a recent trial run of one of the new trains.
"We ran a trial a couple of weeks ago when we sent an unloaded 1km from Townsville to Cloncurry and then back to Townsville fully loaded, and I'm pleased to say that the test was very successful," he said.
Mr Quinn said the higher load weight of the 1km trains will drastically increase time efficiency over the previously used 750m locomotives.
"The increased size of the trains allows an extra 25 wagons over the 750m models, which will allow for an extra 1625 tonnes of magnetite to be transported in one journey."
This article first appeared on www.northqueenslandregister.com.au
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