East coast connection key to North West’s future

Connecting the North West Minerals Province (NWMP) to the National Electricity Market (NEM) is what’s needed to kick off the next wave of major mining investment and jobs in the region, Queensland KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has said.

Prices for large industrial customers in the NWMP range from between $140 to $180 per megawatt hour, while those connected to the NEM pay between $60 and $90 per megawatt hour.

“It’s estimated that access to electricity prices at $85 to $100 per megawatt hour will make hundreds of millions of tonnes of minerals in the NWMP economically viable to mine,” the KAP State Leader said.

Mr Katter said major mining investment in the North West was being hampered by excessive electricity prices, and that government inaction on the issue was putting the region’s future at risk.

“I’ve spoken to most of the existing and prospective miners in the region and the consensus is that there is decades worth of minerals that can mined if the electricity price is reduced,” he said.

“The government has a huge role to play in getting electricity prices to a level that supports new investment and in this aim, the best thing they can do is support the connection of the North West to the NEM.”

Mr Katter said the NWMP currently had some of the highest electricity costs in the world.

He said the NWMP was at risk of losing new investment to other mining regions in places like Africa and Central America due to the unsuitable energy costs.

“It’s a disgrace to think that one of the most mature and sophisticated mining provinces in the world (the North West Minerals Province) could lose investment to places where militaries overthrow governments on a regular basis,” he said.

“However electricity prices can be bought down and the easiest way to do it is by connecting to the east coast grid.”

“It could herald the start of a new Mount Isa Mines and with that investment comes local jobs and economic activity”.

High electricity prices aren’t just a case of missing opportunities, with Mr Katter stressing the NWMP was at risk of losing existing investment if a long-term solution to bringing prices down wasn’t found.

In May, 2017, Glencore’s former copper director Aristotelis Mistakidis warned of the strain these high costs were placing on the viability of the miner’s future in Mount Isa.

“If electricity prices continue to rise, Glencore will be forced to consider the future of our copper processing assets across (North Queensland), as well as future investment in energy-intensive operations,” he said.

“The Government needs to take comments like these very seriously,” Mr Katter said.

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