Lift restrictions in north-west Queensland, Roche

QRC chief executive Michael Roche yesterday called for the energy security restrictions on minerals exploration and development in north-west Queensland to be lifted.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Michael Roche yesterday called for the energy security restrictions on minerals exploration and development in north-west Queensland to be lifted as a matter of national interest.

Speaking at the launch of the Sims Review into energy supply options for the region, Roche said growth had been hamstrung by high energy costs and increasing supply.

“There are real and significant costs for this region, for Queensland and the country for as long as these energy issues remain unaddressed,” he said.

“The high cost of energy in the region effectively sterilises mineral resources.

“Expensive energy means that only high grade ore can be recovered economically, reducing both mine lives and opportunities in the region.”

According to Roche, the uncertainty of energy growth for the region also means that future mining and minerals processing investment is placed under immediate pressure.

“This can not be allowed to continue if we are serious about renewing activity in the region,” he said.

The Sims Review was commissioned by the QRC in partnership with the state government.

It determined that transmission links between north-west Queensland the eastern seaboard’s National Electricity Market were competitive with local power generation options.

“Rod Sims has identified a circuit breaker to step us past the energy supply impasse, which is good news for Mount Isa, for Queensland and for the national economy,” Roche said.

The QRC named north-west Queensland as of one of the world’s most prospective mineral provinces.

Roche said state and federal governments had benefitted from the production of more than $85 billion in mineral wealth from the region over the past 100 years.

“It in the national interest to see the region realise its 21st century potential,” he said.

The audience included Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan and Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser.

“The review found that the numbers are too close to call on the best energy solution for the north-west, so we’re putting all options in process,” Fraser said.

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