Mount isa would benefit from the revival of the CopperString project.
Mount isa would benefit from the revival of the CopperString project.

$1b power plan gets new lease on life

THE billion-dollar CopperString project and its potential for hundreds of jobs for the regions has been revived in a bid to open up a vast mining province in northwest Queensland.

The electricity transmission project was scuttled in 2010 but was revived last week when proponents met in Townsville with the Australian Energy Market Operator, IncitecPivot, Glencore, MMG and Chinova Resources.

Glencore, which spends about $500 million a year on electricity, has given in-principle support but stressed it was early days while Mount Isa-based MP Robbie Katter said it would be game changer for the region.

"The planets are aligning and the key industry players are backing it,'' Mr Katter said.

"It's a bloody terrific thing.''

Member for Traeger Robbie Katter.
Member for Traeger Robbie Katter.

This time around it will be a scaled-back $500 million version of CopperString which will link Hughenden to Mount Isa allowing the huge Kennedy wind farm and several solar projects to provide electricity to Mount Isa industry and the northwest minerals province - a region regarded as one of the last potentially huge mining regions.

The province has suffered because of its remoteness and a lack of affordable energy and Mr Katter said mining projects were being locked into onerous energy contracts costing millions which could be spent on expansion and new projects.

CopperString founder John O'Brien said the project would provide electricity "materially'' cheaper than gas.

He said the project had started talks with NAIF for debt funding.

"CopperString is planning to commission an interconnector between the east-coast grid and the northwest minerals province in 2021/22, providing access to the national electricity market for both buyers and producers of energy in the greater Mount Isa region, as well as incentivising new generation in northern Queensland,'' Mr O'Brien said.

"There is no doubt electricity is a huge constraint and it's hard for Glencore and everyone else.

"The Townsville to Mount Isa minerals supply chain is one of Queensland's most significant economic contributors, yet it remains critically hamstrung by the absence of efficient energy supply. We should be growing this golden goose, yet we are doing our best to kill it."