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Queensland’s $1 billion CopperString Project closer to reality

A major new energy solution for Mount Isa and the resource rich North West Mineral Province is a step closer, according to the Queensland State Government.

The draft Terms of Reference (ToR) for the proposed 700 km power line from Woodstock south of Townsville to Mt Isa had been approved and would be released for public consultation until October 4, 2010.

The draft ToR outline the framework of the comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to assess any potential social, environmental or economic impacts associated with the proposed project.

The $1 billion CopperString power line proposes to construct an alternating current, high-voltage transmission line to the North-West Queensland electricity supply system via a new connection near Cloncurry.

The line will connect the mineral rich North West Mineral Province, and future mining projects, to the national electricity grid.

This project aims to provide an electricity transmission network ‘backbone’ from north Queensland to the north-west minerals province to bolster its growth potential. The North West Minerals Province around Mount Isa is a significant base and precious metal mining province, with production in 2007-08 valued at $7.5 billion.

The Sims Review found it would be best for Government to encourage private entities to develop options to deliver the region’s future power needs. The State Government is supporting private entities CuString and Leighton Contractors in conducting a feasibility study for the proposed CopperString project.

This proposed power project also provides the potential to unlock renewable energy reserves from future solar and possibly geothermal sources as those technologies mature.

The proposed transmission line will utilise existing proven transmission line engineering to provide approximately 400 MW of firm transfer capability to and from the National Electricity Market. The project is intended to complement, not replace, the existing energy infrastructure in north and north-west Queensland.

While the new Woodstock substation south of Townsville is currently the preferred eastern connection to the national electricity grid other options would be the existing Ross and Strathmore substations sites.

Further expansion of the western area of the project beyond the Chumvale substation may occur subject to demand and this may result in the extension of the transmission line creating a total length of up to 1,100 km. The final connection point will be determined through ongoing negotiations with Powerlink.’

The project is a joint venture between Leighton Contractors and CuString who have developed a Special Purpose Vehicle to develop the joint venture.

Submissions close on Monday 4 October 2010 and should be addressed to:
The Coordinator-General
c/- EIS Project Manager, CopperString project
Significant Projects Coordination
Department of Infrastructure and Planning
PO Box 15009 City East QLD 4002

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