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CopperString gathers funding, aims to open mineral fields

Energy company CopperString 2.0 will use the $14.8 million granted to it this week by the State Government to progress its environmental impact statement and other regulatory hurdles.

May 21, 2020, updated May 21, 2020
CopperString could significantly reduce electricity costs in northwest Queensland. (Photo: Glencore)

CopperString could significantly reduce electricity costs in northwest Queensland. (Photo: Glencore)

It is now anticipating a response to its application for $1 billion in debt funding from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility within months and a potential start in the first quarter of next year.

It already has Dutch group DIF Capital on board as its lead equity partner. DIF has provided $5 million so far. The Government owned Powerlink also has an option to subscribe for the equity component, which would total about $400 million to $500 million.

The CopperString project would provide electricity transmission lines from Townsville to Mt Isa that would help open up the potentially significant north west minerals province. It also could send electricity from renewable energy projects in the west to the coast where it could enter the national electricity market.

CopperString director Joseph O’Brien said Mount Isa industry currently paid two to three times the price for electricity compared with Townsville and the ageing Mica Creek gas-fired power station was shuttered earlier this month.

O’Brien said the company was still in due diligence with NAIF.

The company was also negotiating with a group of banks.

O’Brien said the State Government funding was conditional on it reaching milestones but it was a strong indication of support.

The project aligns with the State Government’s policy to open up the minerals province which is considered to have massive mineral resources but is too remote to make mining viable.

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there was wider economic benefits from unlocked private investment that have been modelled at more than 3500 jobs in north Queensland and $79 billion economic uplift over 30 years.

“I just don’t want to see the minerals, cobalt, copper, scandium and vanadium mined in Queensland,” she said.

“I want to see batteries manufactured in Queensland because that means more jobs in the regions.

“This is the type of productive infrastructure that will position Queensland for the next half a century.”

 

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