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Three major rail lines are being considered to help develop Northern Australia.
One from Kununurra in Western Australia to Katherine in the Northern Territory, another from Central Queensland to Abbot Point in the Far North, and more recently a renewed push to build a line from Mount Isa to Karumba.
The idea of shipping minerals from North West Queensland out of Karumba has been around since the 1800s, but the Mount Isa Electric Power Company, or MIEPCO, has put together a detailed proposal which is attracting investors.
The development would include a 450 kilometre rail line, plus a 40 kilometre jetty west of Karumba to reach deeper waters and allow loading.
While it's hoped this could ease the pressure on East coast ports, there are concerns the development could increase water pollution.
However, based on feedback from the community, government and industry, MIEPCO have decided to proceed with the project, and predict the rail could be operational by 2016, costing around 1.5 billion dollars.
Chief Executive, David Fletcher, says eastern ports and rail lines can no longer support the volume of product coming out of the Northwest.
He explains how the new port might look.
"There's a number of proposals for the actual port facility which would be to the west of the Norman River off Karumba, one is a long jetty to get out to the depth we require in the gulf, another is a trans-shipping proposal, operating barges out to a transhipping facility."
But fisherman in the gulf are concerned about how Karumba port expansions would impact their business.
Brian Corbett operates a fishery out of Karumba and says water pollution is already a problem.
"We have a Robinson 44 Helicopter, I fly over that area it's part of our banana prawn fishery where they load those barges out about 20 kilometres off Karumba and I see that dust off that zinc blowing into the pristine waters of the northern part of Australia daily.
If they're going to start loading ships out in the prawning grounds with other minerals from Mount Isa you're going to get spillage and it's going to go into our prawning grounds."
Owners of Century Mine, MMG, say seagrass and sediment monitoring in October found that the presence of zinc concentrate remains at naturally occurring levels.
They have not provided feedback for the Carpentaria rail proposal, but the Gulf's economic development group says the proposal makes economic sense.
Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Savannah Development, Rob Macalister says the proposal makes economic sense.
He says the construction of more rail lines in Northern Australia rail lines is inevitable.
"I think you've got to look at the overall economic benefits of increased exports out of the gulf port... there might be some impacts that have to be managed, such as for the fishing industry, but certainly I think the Gulf Councils have a commitment to manage any impacts in the best way that they can."
To view the proposal visit http://www.carpentariarail.com.
Further submissions can be made to the Port Carpentaria Community Enquiry by emailing email@example.com.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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