Monday 16th Dec, 2019

Rail subsidies to boost Queensland freight exports

Rail track. Photo: RailGallery.com.au

Queensland’s four-year $80 million Mount Isa Line Subsidy is set to boost mineral freight exports and support jobs in the region.

The State Government aims to support the growth of the mining industry in North West Queensland with the subsidy.

As part of the 2019/20 Queensland Budget, $20 million was announced in annual funding for four years in incentives for commercial freight users on the Mount Isa line.

Implementation arrangements have been finalised after two consultation workshops in Townsville and Brisbane, where industry feedback was heard.

Rail payments for the Mount Isa Line Subsidy will be paid to eligible participants on a quarterly basis.

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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said investing in this region, where 75 per cent of the state’s base metal and mineral deposits are, is crucial to growing exports and supporting local jobs.

“We know how important the North West Minerals Province is to the resources sector and how important that sector is for regional employment, exports and economic growth,” Palaszczuk said.

“In the year to September 2019, Queensland’s exports topped $87.6 billion.

“Today the government will be releasing the scheme guidelines and the application form to allow eligible users on the Mount Isa Line to apply for the incentive.”

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the Mount Isa Line Incentive Scheme will make rail freight more competitive and incentivise a shift from road freight to rail on one of Queensland’s most important freight routes.

“The Mount Isa Line is critical for servicing the mining industry and this investment will help existing mining operators get their resources to the Port of Townsville for export as well as encourage new investment in the state’s north west,” Trad said.

“We have made significant repairs on the 300 kilometres of track on the Mount Isa Line damaged during February’s unprecedented flood event, to ensure that north west Queensland has reliable transport infrastructure.

“The scheme will be administered by Transport and Main Roads, with the first quarterly payment commencing at the end of this year, backdated from 1 July 2019.”

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the scheme is a win for the north west’s economy and will provide certainty to companies who rely on the route.

“These upgrades have reduced freight travel times between Mount Isa and Townsville by 50 minutes, significantly improving efficiency and increasing capacity, which is great news for our regional exporters,” Bailey said.

The Queensland Government will continue to investigate opportunities to remove barriers that slow the growth of rail freight and will look to make it easier for new market entrants.