Funds secures smelter, refinery jobs and North West supply chain

Published Wednesday, 23 September, 2020 at 11:59 AM


Premier and Minister for Trade
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Treasurer, Minister for Infrastructure and Planning
The Honourable Cameron Dick

The Palaszczuk Government will provide a multi-million-dollar economic recovery boost to secure more than 1,000 resource and manufacturing jobs across North Queensland, from Mount Isa to Townsville.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the funding would assist the ongoing operations of the Mount Isa copper smelter, the Townsville copper refinery and manufacturer Incitec Pivot.

The announcement is a key initiative of the Townsville Regional Recovery Action Plan unveiled today to support the region’s economic recovery and to create local jobs.

“We know COVID has had a huge impact on economic condition globally,” the Premier said.

“But we will emerge from this downturn and when we do, I am determined that these important jobs right across north Queensland will be here as well.

“Queensland has an economic plan for COVID-19 recovery and our traditional strengths like resources and manufacturing industries are critical to that plan.

“This investment will underpin 350 jobs at the smelter, 220 jobs at the Townsville Copper Refinery, and another 520 in Incitec Pivot’s operations in North Queensland, which depend on the smelter for feedstock.

“Queensland, like the rest of the world, is facing tough economic conditions because of the pandemic.

“That’s why my Government is stepping up to protect jobs in North Queensland, and also to maintain critical industrial capability and supply chains.”     

The support package will allow for the four-yearly re-bricking and maintenance work at the smelter, due in September next year.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said the funding lifeline is part of the Queensland Government’s $8 billion plan to protect the health, jobs and businesses of Queenslanders.

“The Regional Economic Recovery Plan released by the Premier today, builds on our immediate commitment to keeping the region moving through extra support for businesses, workers and households,” the Treasurer said.

“Our strong health response and our strong borders have positioned us well for economic recovery.

“The North-West Minerals Province was one of the world's richest mineral-producing regions, with half a trillion dollars’ worth of the new economy minerals needed for batteries and renewables.

“Demand for those critical minerals will climb over the next decade from the renewable and technology sector.

“Queensland needs to maintain minerals processing capability in the North West to keep supply chains open for future critical mineral developments and the jobs they will create.”

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said the plan also includes more upgrades to Riverway and support for DriveIT.

“It’s great to see there is more than $19 million for further safety and capacity improvements on Riverway Drive,” Mr Harper said.

“And subject to further feasibility work, a $10 million boost will support the regionally-owned motor sport facility DriveIT delivering a range of programs and activities including driving courses, Emergency Services training, product testing and events.”

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the Palaszczuk Government continued to invest in strategic infrastructure to stimulate resources and renewable energy investment across the North.

“As part of our economic recovery plan, we have invested $15.98 million for the potential 1100 kilometre CopperString 2.0 high voltage transmission line to provide cheaper power and supercharge investment,” he said.

“To help get freight moving we have also invested $50 million in the Mount Isa rail line, to bolster capacity between North Queensland’s largest port in Townsville and the north-west.”

Townsville Regional Recovery Action Plan initiatives include:

  • Financial support for Mount Isa Mines’ ongoing copper processing operations – backing hundreds of jobs from Mount Isa to Townsville. This investment underpins 350 jobs at the smelter, 220 jobs at the Townsville Copper Refinery and another 520 in Incetic Pivot’s operations in North Qld.
  • $30 million for Big Rocks Weir –to help secure water and support local agriculture, subject to a successful detailed business case.
  • $19 million for more Riverway Drive upgrades
  • $10 million boost to support DriveIT – subject to further feasibility work
  • $2 million to support the development of an Australian first maritime autonomous system testing facility in Townsville to help position the region as a leader in the field.
  • $195 million to construct stage 2 of the Haughton pipeline supporting over 500 jobs.
  • $230 million in partnership with the Australian Government for stage 5 of the Townsville Ring Road underway
  • $14.8 million to fast track support for the Copperstring 2.0 high voltage transmission line to drive investment in the North West Minerals Province.
  • $16 million into investigating the potential raising and improvement of the Burdekin Falls Dam to boost the Townsville region's water supply.
  • $950 million in payroll tax relief, supporting 25,300 jobs in the Townsville region.
  • $42.4 million in COVID-19 Jobs Support Loans supporting around 3470 jobs at 283 Townsville region businesses
  • $8.1 million in adaptation grants to 907 small businesses. 


Glencore acknowledged the goodwill and constructive discussions with the Palaszczuk Government, which culminated in the agreement to extend copper smelter and refinery operations.

Glencore said the government’s incentive would help mitigate the ongoing costs of continuing its copper smelter in Mount Isa and refinery in Townsville beyond 2022.

“We recognise these metallurgical assets are an important part of the North Queensland economy and part of a broader supply chain which supports thousands of jobs,” Glencore said in a statement today.

Jeanne Johns, Incitec Pivot Managing Director and CEO said the Queensland Government’s support was a vote of confidence for the region.

“The government’s investment will support north Queensland’s industrial capability and provide certainty for businesses and jobs in the region,” she said.

“This commitment underpins fertiliser supply and manufacturing at Mt Isa and Phosphate Hill facilities, ensuring that major employers like us can continue to provide jobs to support the agricultural sector.

“Incitec Pivot is committed to this region which is a key economic zone for the state and will play a crucial role in the economic recovery of Queensland.”

To find out more about how the Palaszczuk Government is supporting North Queensland, see the Townsville Regional Recovery Action Plan.

 Media contact:

Zoe Russell (Premier’s office) – 0439 982 347
Geoff Breusch (Treasurer’s office) – 0417 272 875