For the first time in a very long time, North Queensland is benefiting from a range of major private sector projects to combine with publicly funded projects.
Over the past few years, North Queensland has relied on major government projects like upgrading the Bruce Highway and the Townsville Stadium to ‘pump up’ economic activity.
But now, we have very significant private sector investment in renewable energy, precious metals and rare earth minerals and further development of major coal mines to accompany government funding of defence facilities and hopefully, port expansion.
There is more than $1 billion in committed private sector projects near Townsville, with projects like the Genex Kidston Solar Project, Pumped Storage Hydro and the Ravenswood Gold expansion. These projects exclude the continuing development of the Bravus coal mine and rail infrastructure and the imminent development at Olive Downs Coal Mine. When these projects combine with the steady roll out of potentially $1 billion in works associated with the Australian and Singapore Army Training initiatives at Greenvale, we have a highly impressive list of committed developments.
And there is one prospective project that, if managed appropriately, has the potential to tie the historic loose ends between mining and manufacturing in Australia together – for North Queensland’s benefit.
The Lansdown Eco Industrial Precinct is situated outside Townsville. It is being projected by Townsville City Council as a very worthwhile location for advanced manufacturing, technology and processing.
The Council is correct – and the North Queensland business community needs to understand the potential this Precinct has, because world events and a National Government strategy appear to be combining constructively to allow this Precinct to be a nationally significant location for modern manufacturing.
Lansdown is close enough for an already skilled workforce to commute efficiently, it is very close to a major seaport in Townsville and most importantly, it is very close to the emerging rare earth deposits in North Queensland and the existing base metal deposits between Townsville and Mount Isa.
It would be hard to script the locational benefits any better.
The rapidly emerging international focus toward critical and rare earth elements for powering new age technologies is significant for North Queensland. The market demand will mean industry – including international industry, will be coming toward us and the Modern Manufacturing Strategy released by the Australian Government in 2020 also reinforces North Queensland’s economic prospects. The Strategy listed 6 areas of focus – and 4 of these focus areas involve sectors that North Queensland already has significant expertise, capacity and in some cases, national dominance in.
North Queensland can show significant expertise in the Resources Technology, Clean Energy, and the Defence sectors, along with a very strong productive capacity and expertise in the Food and Beverage sector.
It would be very beneficial for the North Queensland business community to support the manufacturing opportunities that can emerge at Lansdown, so it is important our community understands:
- How and why value adding to the emerging rare earth mining capacity just west of Townsville, and between Hughenden and Mt Isa should be facilitated by a manufacturing hub at Lansdown,
- That the existing gas pipeline, water access, rail, road, and capacity for servicing by renewable energy makes Lansdown unique nationally, and
- The benefit of an innovative major hub in terms of sustainable employment for our region and workflow for all forms of locally owned enterprises.
Lansdown presents as an opportunity to progress North Queensland and particularly Townsville to a different, stronger and progressive level of sustained economic activity that allows our wider community to be part of the new age of industry and benefit from the confidence that this association maintains.
By Craig Stack, Managing Director of Knight Frank’s Townsville and Mackay offices.