North West Minerals Province Blueprint Part 2
North West Minerals Province New Economy
Supporting regional Queensland has been a high priority for the Queensland Government, and the North West Minerals Province is no exception – as one of the world’s richest mineral producing regions, delivering significant economic benefits to the state for decades.
The Queensland Government recognises the significant contribution our resources sector makes in promoting employment, exports and economic growth. In 2015–16 the mining industry accounted for 7.2 per cent of the Queensland economy and 50 per cent of our state’s overseas exports.
Combined with minerals processing and metals manufacturing, the resources sector also supported 79,300 direct jobs and many other indirect jobs across the state.
While the resources sector will continue to be a source of comparative advantage and strength for Queensland’s economic future for many years to come, recent challenges have highlighted the need for regional resources-based economies to also diversify their economic base.
However, the significance of the mining industry and its remote geographic location has meant that it is one of the regions in Queensland that has been exposed to fluctuating prices in the commodities markets.
That is why in November 2015, the Queensland Government supported the establishment of a North West Minerals Province Taskforce to investigate the issues and opportunities impacting the Province and advise on a way forward for the region’s future.
The Taskforce discussed the challenges to mining and exploration in the region, including declining ore grades and maturing operations, as well as opportunities to ensure mining in the region prospers into the future.
The Queensland Government would like to take this opportunity to commend the Taskforce for their commitment to supporting the future of mining in the region and for generating ideas on how government can work with industry and others to foster further exploration, project investment and development opportunities, as well as facilitate long-term economic and community resilience.
There are some positive signs emerging recently including recovering commodity prices, and new project developments.
While there is expected to be a continued decline in overall Queensland metals production levels in the medium term, over the longer term global demand for base and precious metals and rare earths is forecast to increase.
This growth will be fuelled by the ongoing industrialisation and urbanisation of developing countries such as China and India and demand for innovative products, like renewable energy systems, and more traditional applications, including transport infrastructure and other products.
Building on the important work of the Taskforce, this strategic blueprint sets out a platform through which the Queensland Government will collaborate with other levels of government, business and industry, and communities to support a smooth transition to a stronger and more diversified economy in the longer term, leveraging existing economic and community strengths.
This will be achieved through a focused effort on facilitating continued resources sector development, diversifying the regional economy and creating employment opportunities, and working with businesses, communities and other partners to continue to deliver integrated and appropriate services.
Dr Anthony Lynham mp
Minister for State
Minister for Natural
Resources and Mines
Part of the Strategic Blueprint For Queensland’s North West Minerals Province
The North West Minerals Province is one of the world’s richest mineral producing areas containing copper, lead and zinc as well as major silver and phosphate deposits and strong rare earth potential.
The Province’s mining industry has been the primary driver for regional employment and economic growth.
These activities also have important flow-on effects in the local economy, other regional areas and for the state economy, including through supply chain linkages to metal refining and port facilities in Townsville, and the employment of fly-in fly-out workers from Townsville, Cairns and South East Queensland.
However, the Province has recently faced some economic challenges. In recent years, a number of older, larger operations have closed, and exploration activity and investment in mining projects have been impacted by lower commodity prices.
With global commodity prices starting to improve, there is an opportunity for renewal in the region’s mining industries. In response to these challenges, in November 2015 the Queensland Government announced a North West Minerals Province Taskforce to identify issues affecting the Province’s mining industry and to help plan a strategic way forward.
The Taskforce identified opportunities to support the mining industry into the future, including:
• more efficient utilisation of enabling infrastructure
• improving exploration and mining approvals processes
• encouraging the processing of waste material
• driving greater exploration success
• attracting new investment capital
While the Taskforce primarily focused on issues impacting the mining industry, there is an opportunity to look more broadly and build on other economic strengths and opportunities to facilitate more diversified drivers of economic growth.
A holistic approach that leverages strong partnerships across local industries, communities and with key stakeholders, will be essential to build on the strength, prosperity and resilience of the Province over the long term.
A Strategic Blueprint for Queensland’s North West Minerals Province is a platform for the Queensland Government to facilitate a strong future for the region that builds on its economic strengths and supports strong communities.
The strategic blueprint leverages existing initiatives and includes more than $39 million for new easures focused on three strategic priorities:
1. Facilitating continued resources sector development
2. Diversifying the regional economy and creating employment opportunities
3. Working with businesses and communities to deliver integrated and appropriate services
Most importantly, the strategic blueprint aims to provide a strong foundation to galvanise integrated and ongoing partnerships with federal, state and local governments, business, industry and local communities, to support strong and prosperous regional communities in the Province.
Setting the scene – Outlook
Regional Profile – Mount Isa and Cloncurry
The Province, centred around Mount Isa and Cloncurry, was established in the 1920s when some of the world’s richest deposits of copper, silver and zinc were first mined. A map of the region is provided in Figure 1.
Containing the majority of Queensland’s mineral resources and operating as one of the world’s largest mining regions, today the Province holds about 75 per cent of Queensland’s base metal mineral endowment including copper, lead and zinc as well as major silver and phosphate deposits and rare earth potential.
A current breakdown of key base and precious metals production values is provided in Figure 2.
The Province is renowned for its natural environment, characterised by a range of vegetation types and diverse landforms, geology, soil types and climatic variations.
From November to March, summers are typically very hot, with periods of intense rainfall. Winters are usually cool and dry.
Mount Isa is home to the Province’s largest mines, supporting industries and critical infrastructure.
It serves as the primary administrative, commercial, industrial and service centre for North West Queensland as well as parts of the Northern Territory, and acts as the region’s hub for delivery of a variety of health, community service, education and training programs and connections to industry skilling programs.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing and service industries are also important.
It is also a regional transport hub that is serviced by rail, road and commercial air networks providing transport services locally as well as interstate, and forms part of the minerals corridor that transports mined resources from the Province to the Port of Townsville for export.
Figure 1: Geographical scope
The Province spans 10 local government areas:
Burke Shire Council, Carpentaria Shire Council, Cloncurry Shire Council, Croydon Shire Council, Doomadgee Shire Council, Etheridge Shire Council, Flinders Shire Council, McKinlay Shire Council, Mount Isa City Council and Richmond Shire Council.
Figure 2: NWMP key base and precious metals (A$ value) 2016
Source: AME Minerals Economics (Asia) Limited and AME Minerals Economics Pty Ltd, downloaded 10 March 2017. This data has been adjusted by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines utilising exchange rate data from the Reserve Bank of Australia (average rate for 2016).
Industries with more than 1000 employees in the NWMP by location of workplace, 2011
Mining > 32 %
Agriculture, forestry and fishing > 9 %
Health care and social assistance > 7 %
Public administration and safety > 7 %
Retail trade > 6 %
Construction > 6 %
Education and training > 6 %
All other industries > 27 %
Source: ABS, Census of Population and Housing, 2011,
Working Population Profile – W09 (place of work).
Quick Facts – NWMP by the numbers
Resident population > 34,500
Region covers > 375,486 square kilometres
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people represent 22.5% of the total population compared to 4.4% across the rest of Queensland
Median age of the population is 32.6 years compared to 36.9 years across the rest of Queensland. June 2015 – June 2016
Almost two thirds or 22,000 of the total resident population live in Mount Isa
60% of jobs directly or indirectly supported by mining
NWMP Resident population grew at an average rate of 0.7% annually between 2006 to 2016 compared with 1.9% for the rest of Queensland in the same period
Approximately $6.6 billion gross value add in 2010–11
The Province’s remote location and rich mineral resources have contributed to the mining and mineral processing sector becoming the central source of employment and a significant contributor to economic growth in the region.
Mining and minerals processing dominates in terms of employment, economic activity and gross regional product. Mining and minerals processing operations in the Province also have indirect supply chain impacts on zinc and copper refineries in Townsville as well as the Port of Townsville.
In 2014–15, just over one third or 37 per cent of the Province’s workforce were employed directly in the mining and minerals processing industry.
Further, in 2014–15, the industry also accounted for 67 per cent of the Province’s economy and contributed $215 million in royalties shared across Queensland as well as 11,110 direct and indirect jobs.
Glencore’s Mount Isa Mines (MIM), with separate copper and lead-zinc businesses, operates the largest mining and processing operations in the Province.
Glencore’s North Queensland copper operations sustain the Enterprise and X41 underground mines and copper smelter in Mount Isa, Ernest Henry Mine near Cloncurry, copper refinery in Townsville, and port operations at the Port of Townsville.
Together, this integrated supply chain employs around 3150 people. Glencore’s zinc operations provide work for around 1300 people in Mount Isa, including the George Fisher underground mine and associated processing and smelting activities. The vast majority of the MIM workforce live in the community.
Other mines in the region largely source fly-in fly-out employees from Townsville, Cairns and South East Queensland.
Agriculture and tourism are the other key industries supporting the regional economy. The Province has a strong agricultural base including grazing, beef cattle production, horticulture and cropping.
Outside of mining and minerals processing, the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector is the second largest employer in the Province (employing 8.8 per cent of the workforce ).
The broader outback Queensland region also accounted for approximately $2.1 billion or 17 per cent of Queensland’s gross value of agricultural production in 2014–15.
There are opportunities to increase agricultural production in the Province to meet the growing international demand for Australia’s ‘clean’ beef and horticultural products.
The tourism industry is also a key contributor to the economy. The Province offers a unique natural landscape, world-class fossil deposits, national parks and a strong Indigenous heritage.
These natural assets are complemented by strong and vibrant communities that have paved the way for a growing tourism industry.
Events such as the iconic Julia Creek Dirt’n’Dust Festival and MIM Rotary Rodeo, carnivals and race days have also been attracting more and more national and international attention.
Tourism and Events Queensland reports that in the broader outback Queensland region there was an annual average of over two million visitor nights over the three years to December 2016.
While the majority of travellers were domestic visitors, international travellers to the outback account for nine per cent of all visitor nights to the region.
– Queensland Treasury.
– Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2011, Working Population Profile.
– Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Value of agricultural production, Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry in the Queensland – Outback Region 2016.
This strategic blueprint has been informed by the work of the NWMP Taskforce and other targeted stakeholder consultation.
Looking ahead, the Queensland Government is committed to working closely with the mining industry, other businesses and industries, communities, local and federal governments and other key stakeholders to implement and refine the strategic blueprint over the coming years.
This section outlines a way forward to deliver a strong future for the region that builds on its economic strengths and supports strong communities.
Strong and prosperous industries, businesses and communities in the North West Minerals Province.
This strategic blueprint aims to facilitate a smooth economic and social transition for businesses and communities in light of expected lower mining output levels in the medium term, towards a stronger and more diversified economy over the longer term, building on existing economic and community strengths.
The Queensland Government will seek to achieve these outcomes through continued facilitation of resources development, leveraging other viable economic diversification and employment opportunities, ensuring continued support for businesses, and supporting community liveability and wellbeing.
Our Strategic Priorities
Three strategic priorities have been identified as central to securing the future of the Province.
1. Facilitating continued resources sector development
2. Diversifying the regional economy and creating employment opportunities
3. Working with businesses and communities to deliver integrated and appropriate services
Recognising the need to adopt a proactive response in the short term as well as the need to plan for the future, these priorities reflect a broad and balanced whole-of-government approach to create new economic opportunities and maintain and build greater community resilience.
Many of the actions in the short and medium term will take time to deliver significant outcomes for the Province and further collective actions may be needed over time to build on this platform.
As such, these priorities will be delivered across two phases.
Short-term actions – Six to 12 months (2017–18)
Medium-term actions – Year 1 to Year 4 (2017–18 to 2020–21)
Strategic Priority 1:
Facilitating continued resources sector development
There is expected to be ongoing demand for the key commodities of the Province as important inputs to support the growing global economy, including the rapidly developing economies of China and India.
The mineral endowment of the Province is likely to continue to be demanded by global manufacturing and construction industries for a range of intermediate uses, including as key inputs into innovative and more traditional applications such as renewable energy, transport infrastructure and other industrial machinery and equipment.
The Queensland Government is focused on providing balanced, timely and scalable support for the continued development of the resources sector so that the Province can continue to prosper and transition.
This includes helping the sector through recent challenges posed largely by fluctuating commodity prices, declining ore grades and several larger mines maturing or reaching the end of their operational lifecycle.
The Queensland Government has recently announced the following significant measures to incentivise major resources-related projects in the Province:
• Resources Development (Royalties) Policy
The Queensland Government has adopted a new policy approach for major resources projects for the future development of the Galilee and Surat Basins and the North West Minerals Province.
For major projects that have completed comprehensive environmental impact assessments at the state and federal level, the policy provides for negotiation of agreements with proponents of projects with significant regional employment, royalties and economic opportunity benefits for medium-term deferral of royalty payments.
These agreements are to be subject to security arrangements and royalties being repaid in full including interest costs. Other key conditions include the provision of third party access to infrastructure or other acceptable economic infrastructure to the state.
• Discussions with Glencore
The Queensland Government has been pursuing discussions with Glencore around incentives for its MIM copper smelting and mining operations.
In December 2016, the government announced that through the Jobs and Regional Growth Fund, subject to certain conditions, Glencore MIM is being offered a $15 million grant to assist it in re-bricking its copper smelter.
Discussions are continuing on this proposal as well as the company’s proposed Black Rock Open Cut mine proposal. Glencore has advised the government that it is continuing to review further investment on an annual basis.
This strategic blueprint includes almost $30.9 million over four years in additional budget measures to support the resources sector. These measures outlined below are intended to provide tangible support to promote the prosperity of the Province for many years to come.
Deliver minerals and natural gas geoscience exploration programs, new geoscience data systems and promote the region’s investment potential Exploration is critical to the future economic success of the Province, and maintaining a viable pipeline of future projects is contingent on the ability of explorers to find and prove up new major mineral deposits in the Province.
Currently, exploration in the Province faces a number of challenges. The next generation of large mineral deposits, both in the Province and around the world, will be deeper underground and have more complex geology and mineralogy, making them harder to find and process.
Additionally, much of the exploration in the Province is carried out by small companies whose success will depend on their ability to offset risk and attract capital. Explorers will need access to new, high-quality geological data that builds on the information gathered on the Province to date to identify the next major deposits.
The Queensland Government will invest $27.1 million of the $30.9 million for new resources industry measures over four years in a range of geoscience and investment initiatives as detailed below.
• Improve Pre-Competitive Geoscientific Data
To support mineral exploration, the Queensland Government will undertake mineral geophysics and geochemistry studies to better understand the highly prospective area east of Mount Isa and Cloncurry known as the Eastern Succession.
This funding includes participation in the Australian Minerals Industry Research Association Undercover initiative. These initiatives will generate an important new source of data and analysis to help explorers focus their efforts and more efficiently allocate capital and resources.
The Geological Survey of Queensland (GSQ), which is a part of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, will also apply the relevant expertise to analyse and interpret existing and new geoscience data through a minerals systems synthesis study, to identify new prospects for the industry that may be subsequently proved up into new projects.
• Establish a Minerals Collaborative Exploration Program
A four-year Minerals Collaborative Exploration Program will be implemented to provide grants for exploration activities that are undertaken in greenfield and high-risk areas of the Province.
This program will build upon the groundwork of geochemical and geophysical studies to help industry to determine the potential size, character and extent of located mineral deposits.
By partnering with industry to drill for core samples in new areas determined to be geologically significant by GSQ, the Queensland Government will help companies determine if a mineral deposit is significant enough to be further investigated as a commercial opportunity.
Diamantina Minerals Province
The Queensland Government recently announced major geological discoveries by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines and University of Queensland experts of rare earths in the nearby Diamantina Minerals Province.
These experts have uncovered evidence of platinum and gold as well as Rare Earth Elements used in advanced technologies from hybrid vehicle batteries to super-conducting magnets.
The discovery brings a new understanding of mineral potential in a previously under-explored area that covers the copper, gold and platinum-rich Fifield in central New South Wales, through Queensland’s north west country and up to the Merlin diamond mine in the Northern Territory.
Collaborative Drilling Initiative
The Minerals Collaborative Exploration program builds upon the success of the Queensland Government’s long-running Collaborative Drilling Initiative that has supported almost $27 million worth of exploration since 2006 in remote areas of the state, including in the Province.
In April 2017, seven mineral and resource companies in North West Queensland received more than $600,000 in grants under the Collaborative Drilling Initiative to support drilling projects for copper, lead, zinc, silver and gold. These companies included: Ripple Resources Pty Ltd, Teck Australia, Yappar Resources Pty Ltd, Footprint Resources Pty Ltd, Sector Projects Pty Ltd, Red Metal Limited and Mt Dockerell Mining.
Access To Technical Support And Data For Explorers
The Queensland Government recently announced a six-month trial that locates a hyperspectral core logging service in Mount Isa that is used to analyse drill core samples to extract as much data as possible and reduce the overall need for explorers to drill.
• Develop New Geological Databases
In addition to undertaking the groundwork to gather vital new data on the Province, the Queensland Government will develop new geological databases and improve business models for how geological data is accessed. It is important to have contemporary databases to make pre-competitive data, and industry’s own data, available in a format that can be easily used and shared with industry.
Improving access to large, detailed and flexible datasets that support detailed desktop analysis, facilitates a more targeted approach to costly on-the-ground exploration.
• Initiate Gas Exploration in proximity to the Province
The Queensland Government will undertake pre-competitive exploration and geoscience investigations of gas potential. The initial focus of the gas exploration package will be in Queensland’s frontier or greenfield gas basins that have been identified as having significant gas exploration potential that fall outside the existing producing basins (Surat, Bowen and Cooper).
The Department of Natural Resources and Mines has identified several basins abutting the Province, including the South Nicholson Basin, Isa Superbasin, and Georgina Basin, as highly prospective for natural gas exploration.
• Promote the Investment Potential of the Province
While there is strong global demand for the minerals from the Province, Queensland continues to face strong international competition to attract investment into the minerals and energy resources sector. It is vital that information about the Province’s prospectivity is being provided to capital markets and producers internationally.
The Office of the Resources Investment Commissioner, in conjunction with GSQ, will increase efforts to actively promote the Province and its many existing and potential mining opportunities.
A key component of these efforts will be an annual technology and investor forum held in Townsville that will showcase the latest research and technical developments, the commercial opportunities available to investors, and the expertise of Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) companies active in the Province.
Queensland’s METS sector supplies equipment, technical, safety and other services to both the mining and oil and gas industries. This includes education, mine rehabilitation and remediation, mining technologies and contract service provision (for example, scientific, technical and professional services).
The Queensland METS sector employs people across the state, including in resource regions such as the Province. Queensland has many METS companies leading their respective fields internationally in the development and commercialisation of new processes, technologies and products for the energy and resources industry.
Clarify and streamline approvals processes for explorers
It is important to ensure that mineral exploration work in the Province can take place in a timely, cost-effective and efficient manner. To facilitate this, the Queensland Government will provide greater assistance to exploration companies in navigating the approvals processes, particularly around native title (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) and cultural heritage.
The Queensland Government will also support stakeholder-led efforts to further streamline the land access processes in a manner that benefits all parties, for example, towards the development of standardised conduct and compensation agreements.
Investigate opportunities to re-process waste materials from tailings
The Queensland Government is investigating opportunities to re-process waste materials, including characterising the endowment and technical barriers to remediating abandoned mines and tailings dams.
This will provide the necessary information to understand the barriers to extraction, including research and development issues, and develop policies to encourage mining companies to extract minerals from waste deposits as well as assisting in rehabilitation.
This may also contribute to the application of collaborative research between government and industry to investigate re-processing of and access to lower-grade minerals from tailings dams over the longer term.
Facilitate current projects in the investment pipeline
• Provide targeted support for resources projects
The current investment pipeline in the Province includes a number of smaller projects located further away from existing projects and critical infrastructure.
As part of the current focus on the resources sector in the Province, the Queensland Government will provide a greater level of support to facilitate these projects being developed successfully.
In particular, greater focus will be placed on streamlining and expediting approvals processes. To achieve this, the Queensland Government, through the Department of State Development, has recently established a project facilitation team to support near-term projects.
A key focus of the team is to streamline and assist in expediting approvals and access to Queensland Government contacts, and facilitate introductions with local companies and service providers.
The team also identifies opportunities to progress projects and apply innovative technology including through approval pathways, resource availability information, site selection, workforce solutions and access to economic data and business tools.
Project support for the Capricorn copper mine and Dugald River zinc mine
The $152 million project to refurbish and reopen the Capricorn copper mine, 125 kilometres north of Mount Isa, was recently granted ‘prescribed project’ status by the Queensland Government.
Once re-opened the former Mount Gordon copper mine is forecast to produce 30,000 tonnes per annum of copper metal concentrate over an initial mine life of 10 years.
Production is expected to commence later this year, generating approximately 90 jobs during construction and more than 200 direct operational jobs. The joint venture has committed to prioritising employment, suppliers and contractors from Mount Isa and other North West Queensland communities, including Cloncurry.
The $1.4 billion MMG Dugald River zinc mine represents another exciting opportunity for North West Queensland. Dugald River is one of the world’s largest and highest grade known undeveloped zinc-lead-silver deposits with a resource of 53 million tonnes.
MMG’s project that is 85 kilometres north east of Mount Isa has also been granted ‘prescribed project’ status and is due to start production in the first half of 2018. At peak production of 160,000 tonnes of zinc per annum, it would be one of the world’s top 10 zinc mines.
The mine will provide employment opportunities for workers in Cloncurry, Mount Isa and Townsville. Once fully operational the mine is expected to employ up to 400 site-based staff.
* Leverage Common User Infrastructure Opportunities
Individual projects may be limited in their capacity to develop all the infrastructure required to support their development.
Common user infrastructure provides the opportunity to drive down development costs for individual projects, with multiple users contributing to the development of, and benefiting from key forms of infrastructure required for mining and other projects.
This may include transport infrastructure such as road, port and rail, utilities such as electricity, gas and water, or other types of minerals processing infrastructure.
The Queensland Government, through the Department of State Development, will invest a further $3.4 million (of the total $30.9 million for the new resources industry measures) over four years to conduct a detailed review of common user infrastructure opportunities, including existing infrastructure that is being under-utilised or not utilised at all, in areas where a number of prospective new mining projects are clustered close to each other.
Further, the Department of State Development will facilitate collaboration across parties to develop cooperative measures, such as methods to also better utilise current infrastructure.
The intent is to establish clearly defined processes and pathways to harness current levels of activity in a more proactive and collaborative way.
Support applied research and development in the Province
Innovation will be key to the Province thriving into the future. Research and development relevant to both resource and METS sector businesses will be vital to ensuring that when the next generation of large deposits is found through exploration efforts there is available technology to mine and process these resources.
In addition to examining a number of known technological challenges in the Province for processing mineral ores, the Queensland Government will provide an additional $300,000 (of the $30.9 million for the new resources industry measures) to facilitate the development of an industry-led research and development roadmap for minerals (excluding coal) in Queensland.
This roadmap will provide a strategic vision for future research and development efforts to ensure that each phase in the development of mineral projects is supported appropriately, though special focus will be placed on developing new technologies to support mineral extraction, processing and site rehabilitation.
Strategic priority 2:
Diversifying the regional economy and creating employment opportunities
The Province has a strong regional economy built predominantly on mining and minerals processing.
The Queensland Government is committed to maximising commercially viable economic development and job creation opportunities for the Province by adopting a whole-of-government diversification approach, with additional funding of almost $5.5 million over four years for initiatives within this strategic blueprint priority.
Develop a regional economic diversification strategy for North West Queensland
The Queensland Government will develop a long-term regional economic diversification strategy to leverage and identify development opportunities in key sectors including resources, agriculture, enabling infrastructure, tourism, and business and industry.
The strategy will explore ways to create the pre-conditions necessary for a more diverse range of drivers for the regional economy in order to:
• Optimise continued local employment opportunities
• Support the Province’s liveability and ability to attract and retain workers and their families
• Build the right skill mix for the jobs
of the future
• Foster the development of entrepreneurial capacity in the region
• Examine cost-effective opportunities to enhance enabling infrastructure such as energy, water, ICT and transport.
The strategy will be developed through a whole-of-government approach and in collaboration with key stakeholders, local businesses and communities.
Key actions to be delivered in developing the strategy include:
• Complete an Infrastructure Audit
Enhancement and optimisation of the use of physical infrastructure such as energy, water, information and communications technology and transport is a key priority that will facilitate economic diversification opportunities for the Province.
The Queensland Government is committed to undertaking several review projects to clarify the issues and barriers to continued cost-effective private and public sector investment in the development and more efficient use of key infrastructure including rail connections, ports, various roads and Internet access.
• Scope Opportunities for Increasing Agricultural Production
The state’s North West presents unique prospects for further agricultural development. In recognising these opportunities across the Province, the Queensland Government will be developing an integrated North West Queensland agriculture plan.
The plan will focus on continuing to grow a sustainable and diversified agricultural sector, and will be developed in collaboration with key stakeholders across the supply chain and linked with the broader regional economic diversification strategy.
• Investigate Tourism Opportunities
The Queensland Government continues to deliver a number of programs that support tourism development in regional Queensland, including educational and school-based tourism, paleo-tourism opportunities associated with the Riversleigh and other fossil
sites, ecotourism and drive tourism opportunities.
Comprehensive data and insights about visitor and non-visitor preferences and trends, as well as existing infrastructure and resources in the Province are needed to drive future growth of the tourism industry.
Office of the Chief Entrepreneur
There is evidence of an appetite in the region for expanding its entrepreneurial culture including in information technology related areas. Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur Mark Sowerby led a regional Queensland tour in early March 2017 with 15 events in 10 towns over four days. The tour brought together some of Queensland’s leading business people to share their experiences with regional communities, including:
• Steve Baxter, Shark on Shark Tank and founder of River City Labs
• Patrice Brown, 2016 Telstra Business Women’s Queensland Entrepreneur and founder of CQG Consulting
• Lucas Patchett, co-founder of Orange Sky Laundry and 2016 Young Australian of the Year
• Stephen Phillips, co-founder of We Are Hunted and CEO of Mawson Ventures
Mount Isa was one of the regional communities that hosted an event attracting more than 60 locals from business, industry and government and inspiring the community to look at growing their own start-up ecosystem in the region.
As a result, two key locally-driven activities have been proposed, including a coding workshop to help develop new skills for young people in the community and a new co-working space to develop and grow local entrepreneurial talent.
Building our Regions
This is a $375 million targeted infrastructure program over three years, from 2015–16, to provide funding to local governments for critical infrastructure in regional areas, while also supporting jobs, fostering economic development and improving the liveability of regional communities.
A total of 13 projects across the Province have been funded through Building our Regions—allocating just under $13 million and creating an estimated 70 plus jobs for the region in rounds one and two of the fund.
The Queensland Government’s $180 million Significant Regional Infrastructure Projects Program supports significant infrastructure projects in key regional centres, including three projects within the Province:
• the McKinlay Multi-Purpose Health Service extension for aged care and refurbishment
• the Central West Hospital and Health Service Boulia refurbishment and mechanical upgrade
• infrastructure enhancement at Doomadgee State School
Responding to community needs and providing increased economic opportunities for the Province, the announced funding for these crucial projects totals almost $9 million and will support 22 jobs. The Queensland Government will continue to support significant regional infrastructure projects as needed.
Collecting information regarding visitors and tourism infrastructure will be central to assessing known opportunities associated with drive, paleo and ecotourism and as well as informing future opportunities and priorities.
In the first instance, the Queensland Government will undertake a visitor survey. The outcomes of the survey will inform and complement an audit of existing tourism infrastructure and other available research.
These actions are expected to lead to the development of improved content for implementation, including key drive touring routes linking operators and tourists through digital platforms and printed materials to improve strategic connections and attract more visitors to the Province.
The data and insights will also contribute to consideration, development and prioritisation of actions proposed by the regional economic diversification strategy.
• Improve the digital presence of regional start-ups and established businesses
There were 2485 registered businesses in the Province at June 2016, and 96 per cent of these were small businesses 8 . Many of these businesses are not taking advantage of existing telecommunications infrastructure that could be supporting increased business productivity.
The Queensland Government will develop a regional digital strategy to assist local businesses and remotely located start-ups and entrepreneurs maximise their capacity to access digital and telecommunications infrastructure.
Support key enabling infrastructure
The Queensland Government is committed to continuing to support feasibility work for a more stable and reliable track structure for freight services along the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor.
A critical determinant of regional development into the future will be the provision and optimal use of key regional infrastructure to enable and unlock significant development potential.
The potential project involves construction of an eight kilometre rail freight line that will connect the North Coast Rail Line to the Port of Townsville. This project is expected to create greater capacity on this section of the Mount Isa rail system, which is a critical link between the Province and the Port of Townsville that is used to export goods.
Continue to support the development of the Jemena Northern Gas Pipeline
The Queensland Government remains committed to continuing to work in partnership with the Northern Territory Government and the energy and infrastructure company Jemena on the Northern Gas Pipeline. Once complete, the $800 million gas pipeline will extend 622 kilometres from Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory to Mount Isa.
With 165 kilometres of the pipeline in Queensland, it will generate benefits through construction and operational jobs across the pipeline as well as supply chain opportunities and domestic gas supply.
The project is expected to support up to 600 construction jobs and 30 operational jobs, with construction anticipated to be complete in 2018.
Support opportunities to leverage agriculture research projects
The Queensland Government has already committed $1.5 million over three years to stimulate research activity to progress the development of new agriculture opportunities across North Queensland.
This funding will support opportunities to leverage industry-led research and development being undertaken through the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia for increased agriculture production across the Province and other parts of North Queensland.
The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia, currently being established in Townsville, is intended to provide a collaborative research platform to address challenges that have constrained agricultural and broader development in the north and includes a $75 million commitment over 10 years from the federal government.
Build entrepreneurial capacity for existing and emerging sectors
The Queensland Government has been strongly focused on fostering the development of entrepreneurial capacity across the state and in the regions.
The government will facilitate access to existing state and federal government grants and other support programs, to build entrepreneurial capacity for existing and emerging sectors across the Province.
There are already many existing grants and programs available to provide support for business planning, financial counselling, incentives for redeployment and training, guidance for start-ups and engagement in e-commerce. This will mean leveraging existing Queensland Government programs such as:
• One Stop Service assisting landowners with the development proposals process for new and expanded agriculture development
• Small Business Digital Grants Program providing access to digital technologies and services to enable small businesses to work smarter, engage with the global economy and make the most of online business opportunities.
Ignite Ideas Fund: Australian Gulf Seafoods
Australian Gulf Seafoods (AGS), a Mount Isa based start-up business was awarded $96,959 funding in Round 2 of the Ignite Ideas Fund (a commercialisation support fund for Queensland small and medium-sized enterprises) for their Carp’ Crabs to Tiger Tables project.
AGS aims to supply some of the world’s most ecologically friendly and sustainable seafood to international markets, including leading international hotels in Asia, with highly-prized mud crabs that are wild-caught in the mangrove-lined shallow waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The wild-caught mud crabs are comparable to Wagyu beef in international markets. They will be held ‘live’ in specifically designed natural ecosystem holding tanks that will replicate their natural environment before being exported. The company will also be exporting other wild-caught and processed seafood from the Gulf.
The Ignite Ideas Fund is part of the Government’s $405 million Advance Queensland initiative. Advance Queensland is working to set the scene for a future Queensland today. It is a transformational agenda for change designed to spur innovation-led economic growth by translating Queensland’s great ideas into commercial success.
It includes a range of programs designed to reinvigorate science and innovation to help create the well-paid, knowledge-based jobs of the future that will attract and retain world-class scientific and entrepreneurial talent.
Back to Work Regional Employment Program
In 2016 the Queensland Government established the $100 million program, giving businesses the confidence to employ jobseekers in Queensland’s regions and providing an economic boost to regions facing challenging times.
The initiative provides support to employers to take on employees; support struggling regions; and support for jobseekers to build confidence, upskill and retrain for jobs in a more agile Queensland economy.
Under this program, as at 1 June 2017:
• 89 employees had been hired as a result of Employer Support Payments, representing $388,000 in Employer Support Payments to 26 employers in the North West region
• 49 employees had been hired as a result of Youth Boost Payments, representing $286,500 in Youth Boost Payments to 36 employers in the North West region.
The 2017–18 State Budget provided an additional $50 million for the program, reflecting ongoing strong demand from the regions.