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A new rail project crossing the Northern Territory and Queensland border has taken another move forward after the governments agreed to progress the Mount Isa to Tennant Creek railway.
Signing a memorandum of understanding to bolster major cross-border infrastructure, Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and NT chief minister Adam Giles say the two governments will develop a joint framework to categorise their priorities on the Townsville to Darwin rail corridor.
"The 600 kilometre railway between Mount Isa and Tennant Creek could provide enormous economic opportunities, potentially opening up new mining projects and boosting development in our regional and remote areas," Giles says.
"This piece of enabling infrastructure would join to, and benefit from the existing railways between Adelaide and Darwin and from Mount Isa to Townsville, providing an efficient route to market for potential new projects in the region and a new logistics option for those who currently use both these lines."
The memorandum of understanding, signed after the recent COAG meeting in Sydney, says both parties are looking to develop a "competitive national freight transport market" and they believe the Mount Isa to Tennant Creek railway is "the next step in the development of the national rail network".
The rail link was first raised in April, when the NT government announced it would be spending $1 million on studies into the project over a two year period.
"This rail connection would provide a standard gauge rail link to the Port of Darwin from north western Queensland via the AustralAsia line, at the same time as opening up access to a broad new area of the NT," Giles said at the time.
"Previous investigations indicated a number of mining companies in the Mt Isa area had an interest in shifting their exports of bulk materials through the Port of Darwin, instead of Townsville, if the cost of transport was right."
This article first appeared on www.fullyloaded.com.au
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