Energy issues in the North West

THE Queensland Resources Council’s (QRC) North West Working Group is continuing discussions of the key energy issues in the North West Minerals Province.

A number of different proposals have been mooted including the announcement of IsaLink as a project of state significance, an alternative transmission link to the east coast and gas pipeline to bypass Ballera.

IsaLink is a proposal to build a 1100 km a high voltage direct current (HVdc) transmission link between the national electricity market near Rockhampton to the Mount Isa grid at Ernest Henry mine. The initial advice statement for the environmental impact statement was released in January.

Townsville Enterprises is advocating a similar high-voltage direc- current transmission link, which would connect to the national electricity market via North Queensland. Their modeling suggests that this could be cheaper for Mount Isa users than IsaLink, and also help reduce energy costs in North Queensland.

The Major Gas Users Association of Queensland has advocated the construction of a pipeline to bypass Ballera as a way of securing greater competition for gas supply into Mount Isa. The government has contributed to the cost of some early feasibility works.

The strong message from the working group is that members are focused on the outcome of competitive energy supply and do not want QRC to be drawn into the relative merits of competing infrastructure solutions.

Many QRC members with operations in the North West Minerals Province also met with the deputy Premier and the minister for mines and energy when the government’s Energy Demand Working Group met in Mount Isa on 19 February.

The meeting began with a presentation from Alan Millis, Deputy Director-General at the Department of Mines and Energy. The presentation provided the background to a series of demand profiles that the department has been gathering through a survey of industry’s expected energy demands.

The demand profiles confirm QRC’s previous advice in a range of submissions last year that there was a fundamental mismatch between the investment horizon of mines (eight to10 years) versus the economic life of generation (20-40 years) and that this imposes real economic costs on industry and the region.

The department has indicated that it will work to prepare a report on the energy survey work and this should be with the working group for comment within the next month.

Andrew Barger

QRCs North West Working Group

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