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Powerlink’s CopperString 2032 project is set to receive $1 billion in funding from the Queensland Government, with $594 million allocated to start construction over the 2023-24 financial year.

The announcement was made at the official opening of Vecco Group’s $26 million Townsville Vanadium Battery Manufacturing Facility, which also received support through the Queensland Jobs Fund.

A $20 million early works package for engineering and geotechnical work has been awarded to CIMIC Group companies UGL and CPB Contractors.

Queensland Minister for Resources, Scott Stewart, said with Joint Venture partners UGL and CPB Contractors now on-board, work on the 500kV transmission line from Townsville to Hughenden will be fast-tracked, as well as associated works to progress the project towards construction commencing in 2024.

“There is enormous potential for vanadium mining and production in North Queensland as demand for vanadium batteries continues to rise, and we create a whole supply chain across North Queensland,” Mr Stewart said. 

“Our government is proudly backing more full-time secure Queensland manufacturing jobs like these, and it’s CopperString 2032 that will unlock the full power of the north.

“If we don’t manufacture our future, someone else will.

“About 800 jobs will be supported through project construction, and when completed the new transmission line significantly increases opportunities to connect high-quality renewable resources to our region’s industries.”

Townsville Vanadium Battery Manufacturing Facility
The new vanadium facility will produce the electrolyte needed to manufacture vanadium batteries, an emerging battery technology that will be critical to support the world’s transition to renewable energy.

Vanadium batteries in comparison with lithium-ion batteries last longer at up to 20 years, have lower rates of degradation and are almost 100 per cent recyclable.  

This commitment paves the way for Queensland to use vanadium batteries in the Queensland SuperGrid, with Energy Queensland inking a deal with Vecco and Sumitomo Electric to trial a vanadium battery in South-East Queensland.

Energy Queensland and Vecco Group will also work together to assess the benefits and technical considerations for connecting more vanadium batteries to the electricity network.

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said, “I want to see vanadium mined in Queensland, processed in Queensland, and made into vanadium batteries here in Queensland.

“This is just the beginning of the manufacturing and mining jobs boom that our investment in CopperString 2032 delivers for North Queensland.

“Queensland has unique deposits of many of the minerals needed for the global energy transformation, along with the best mining and manufacturing workforce.”

Vecco Group Managing Director, Tom Northcott, said Vecco Group’s high-quality vanadium resource in North West Queensland provides an opportunity to build a Queensland vanadium mining and battery manufacturing industry.

“Vanadium flow batteries will play a significant role in the Queensland SuperGrid and we expect to see deployments of this proven technology accelerate as the local supply chain expands,” Mr Northcott said. 

“The Queensland Government has shown great foresight in its commitment to supporting the vanadium industry and it is fantastic to see this supply chain plan being implemented through the government-owned corporations such as EQL.” 

CopperString’s regional benefits
Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mick de Brenni, said maximising local manufacturing and supply chains is an important feature of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan with around 36,000 local jobs forecast to be created in industries supporting the development of the Queensland SuperGrid.

“CopperString 2032 will be connected to the Queensland SuperGrid, the nation’s largest energy grid, meaning that wherever energy is generated we can capture it, send it, store it, and use it wherever it is needed,” Mr de Brenni said. 

“As CopperString 2032 progresses we’re also set to see a number of high quality renewable resources become available in the Hughenden region – a region that has the potential to become Australia’s largest Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

“The State Government is also committed to maximising local supply chain opportunities by leveraging our Buy Queensland procurement policy to bring component manufacturing for the Queensland SuperGrid, to regional Queensland.”

Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper said it was great to see CopperString powering ahead with this important announcement.

“The project will support good jobs not only in construction but through the development of critical minerals projects as well as renewable energy sites.”

Mundingburra MP Les Walker said CopperString 2032 is a transformational project for Townsville and North Queensland.

“It will open up so many opportunities for new good jobs in energy, mining and construction now and into the future.”

CIMIC Group Executive Chairman, Juan Santamaria, said UGL and CPB Contractors, both part of CIMIC Group, are pleased to further strengthen their involvement with CopperString 2032 and to support the Queensland Government to deliver the important infrastructure that will form the Queensland SuperGrid electricity system, and the economic and employment benefits it will bring to communities.

“We have a track record of high voltage power projects in some of Australia’s remote regions, having installed more than 6,500km of transmission lines across the country and currently delivering, with Powerlink, the 275kV electricity transmission line and associated switching station to connect Genex’s renewable energy generation project at Kidston.

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