Can we build a $50 billion link between QLD coal and WA iron?

A Japanese firm has agreed to develop a feasibility study for a plan to develop a $50 billion steel industry linking WA’s iron ore mines with QLD’s coal projects.

The Nomura Research Institute and the consulting arm of Britain’s Tata Steel have taken on early research on the Iron Boomerang proposal, with an agreement signed in Tokyo yesterday.

According to The Australian the plan would involve building a new Queensland town for 20,000 people, which will service a slab-steel plant near Abbot Point.

Another slab-steel plant would also be built in the Pilbara at Port Hedland, and rail lines crossing the NT would transfer coal and iron ore between the two centres.

The project could cost as much as $50 billion and create 20,000 jobs, and the man behind the plan, Shane Condon, said it could be a “game changer” for Australia’s industry.

Condon and the project’s backers, who remain unknown, are funding the $30 million study, which is expected to take two years.

According to The Australian Condon has been discussing the proposal with the world’s largest steel makers in Asia and Europe, and they would be expected to take a stake in the project to help it get off the ground.

Iron ore pioneer Lang Hancock and former QLD premier Joh Bjelke-Peterson considered a similar project in the 1970s but the cost, size, and logistical problems associated with the plan stopped it from going ahead.

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