North West Queensland is one step closer to being connected to the grid with the engineering and geotechnical contract awarded for CopperString 2032.
CIMIC Group companies UGL and CPB Contractors will complete the work, which will lay the foundations for the $5bn project.
The CopperString project, which was initially developed by CuString, will connect the North West to the National Electricity Market via a 1100km transmission line from Mount Isa to Townsville.
The project, which is now owned by the state government, is expected to bring more new economy mineral mining to the region, and bring down power prices.
Construction on the first stage of the line from Townsville to Hughenden is expected to start in 2024.
CIMIC group executive chairman Juan Santamaria said the companies were pleased to support the government to deliver the “important infrastructure” that would form part of the Queensland SuperGrid electricity system.
“We have a track record of high-voltage power projects in some of Australia’s remote regions, having installed more than 6500km of transmission lines across the country and are currently delivering, with Powerlink, the 275kV electricity transmission line and associated switching station to connect Genex’s renewable energy generation project at Kidston,” Mr Santamaria said.
Energy and Renewables Minister Mick de Brenni said CopperString 2023 would be connected to the Queensland SuperGrid, meaning it could be captured, sent, stored and used whenever it was needed.
“As CopperString 2032 progresses we’re also set to see a number of high-quality renewables resources become available in the Hughenden region – a region that has the potential to become Australia’s largest renewable energy zone,” he said.
“The Palaszczuk government is also committed to maximising local supply chain opportunities by leveraging our Buy Queensland procurement policy to bring component manufacturing for the Queensland SuperGrid, to regional Queensland.”
The state government is expected to make the announcement about the contract at the official opening of Vecco Group’s $26m Townsville Vanadium Battery Manufacturing Facility, which will produce the electrolyte needed to manufacture vanadium batteries.
The deal paves the way for the state to use vanadium batteries in the Queensland SuperGrid, with a new deal inked between Energy Queensland, Vecco and Sumitomo Electric to trial a vanadium battery in the southeast.
Energy Queensland and Vecco will also work together to assess the benefits and technical considerations for connecting more vanadium batteries to the electricity network.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she waned to see vanadium mined and processed in Queensland, and made into vanadium batteries in the state.
The state government has funded a critical minerals (which includes vanadium) processing plant in Townsville.
The $75m facility, which will be located in the Cleveland Bay Industrial Park between Sun Metals zinc refinery and the Glencore Copper refinery.
“This is just the beginning of the manufacturing and mining jobs boom that our investment in CopperString 2032 delivers for North Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Queensland has unique deposits of many of the minerals needed for the global energy transformation, along with the best mining and manufacturing workforce.”
Resources Minister Scott Stewart said there was “enormous potential” for vanadium mining and production in North Queensland as the demand for vanadium batteries continued.
“If we don’t manufacture our future, someone else will,” Mr Stewart said.
Vecco Group managing director Tom Northcott said the high-quality vanadium resource in the North West provided an opportunity to build on the state’s vanadium mining and battery manufacturing industry.