Townsville on the Move



The $250 million North Queensland Stadium project has been labelled a “game changer” for Townsville businesses and the local workforce. Construction group Watpac has been appointed managing contractor, promising more than 2000 locals would be involved in contracts relating to the build. Watpac has said 80 per cent of the hours spent building the stadium will be by local workers and at least 80 per cent of the project’s value will be spent on local subcontractors and suppliers. Work is expected to start later this year and the stadium is scheduled to be finished in time for the 2020 NRL season.


THE Australian Defence Force is conducting due diligence and undertaking a business case on the Australia-Singapore military training initiative. Singapore will invest $2.2 billion in military training facilities at Shoalwater Bay and Townsville Field Training Area from 2019. Under the proposal Singaporean and Townsville soldiers will hone their urban warfare skills in a mock city and new live-fire range as part of a $1 billion upgrade of High Range. Around 14,000 Singaporean troops would train for 18 weeks a year in Townsville and Shoalwater Bay, with construction expected to start this year.


ADANI’S $21 billion Carmichael coal mine is expected to get the green light from its Indian

owners within weeks with financing to be completed in June. It paves the way for 600 workers to pour into its Townsville office. Billionaire Gautam Adani has held meetings in Brisbane with the State and Federal government and key stakeholders in a bid to finalise plans. Adani has applied to the Federal Government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility for loans to build a rail line to service the Galilee Basin.


PEMBROKE Resources’ $1 billion Olive Downs coal mine in the Bowen Basin is one step closer stepping up talks with potential financiers and project partners. The coking coal project, near Moranbah, has worked on a feasibility study and the environmental approval process, with plans to build a 14-million-tonne-a-year mine over 35 years. It plans to start developing in 2019 and it is estimated that, at full production, about 960 jobs would be created. Pembroke said it would encourage workers to live locally.


MAYOR Jenny Hill is continuing to push Townsville over Brisbane as a hub for MMG’s new Dugald River zinc mine. Cr Hill wants Townsville to be the primary FIFO base for the mine, northwest of Cloncurry. The project is expected to create as many as 400 jobs. MMG will be sourcing workers from Mount Isa and Cloncurry, but the Cr Hill wants to make sure Townsville is the primary hub for any workers they need to fly in.


A MAJOR natural resources discovery in western Queensland has the potential to create a significant jobs boost and “flush new life” into mining centres like Mount Isa. Platinum, gold and a range of rare elements are thought to be held within geological pipe structures southwest of Mount Isa. The minerals underpin modern technologies like fuel cells, mobile phones, hybrid batteries and superconducting magnets. The discovery, made by University of Queensland’s Emeritus Professor Ken Collerson and Department of Natural Resources and Mines geologists, is forecast to inject more than $9 billion into Queensland’s economy.


A PROPOSED large-scale solar battery plant is being called the “biggest single stimulus for jobs and economic development in Townsville in decades” by the council. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Townsville City Council and Boston Energy and Innovation to explore the financial viability of the project. The battery plant will employ 1000 and is considering sites capable of housing a facility with a footprint of about 20ha with the aim of operating by 2020.


THERE’S renewed optimism for a coal-fired power station to be built in North Queensland.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on a trip to Townsville recently that coal would be part of Australia’s future. A base-load power station would decrease electricity costs to businesses by about 30 per cent, eliminating power being lost in transmission. The mothballed power plant at Collinsville had been suggested as the most feasible site for a new coal-fired power station in North Queensland. A delegation will travel to Japan midyear to investigate leading technology for coal gasification by touring some of the country’s 45 clean coal technology power stations.


OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten has announced he will commit $200 million for construction of a hydro-electric power station at Burdekin Falls Dam. The Labor leader made the pledge in Townsville after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced an investigation into hydro power. The State Government is working on a Burdekin hydro business case, with the power station pegged to create 150 jobs and generate enough electricity for 30,000 homes. The project may be eligible for funding under the Federal Government’s National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, but a private partnership may co-fund the project.


CONSTRUCTION is under way on the $225 million Ross River Solar Farm in Townsville after joint venturers achieved financial close for the project. Palisade Investment Partners and ESCO Pacific are developing the 148MW solar farm on a 202ha former mango plantation near Ross Dam.

It forms part of a development pipeline of more than 1500MW. Construction is expected to take 12 months.


CONSTRUCTION has started on the Kidston Solar Farm Stage 1 and a decision on Stage 2 peak hydro powered by solar is due later this year. ASX-listed company Genex Power has successfully financed $130 million for phase one of the Kidston Solar Project, based at a former gold mine 270km northwest of Townsville. Recruiter WorkPac has advertised on Seek contractor roles for crane ­operators, riggers, trades assistant, forklift operators, trailer drivers and telehandlers. The farm is expected to begin commissioning power from November and once construction is completed, most likely in January, eight to 10 maintenance crews will be employed.


KOREA Zinc’s Sun Metals zinc refinery is investing $267 million in new technology and improved facilities — including a 125MW solar farm. Contractor RCR is due to start work in the coming months on the solar farm at the zinc refinery.

The upgrades are expected to bring 315 full-time jobs in construction. Once the project is completed, Sun Metals is expected to contribute $1.5 billion in total industry output for North Queensland businesses, including $919.8 million directly. As many as 2113 full-time positions are expected to be supported with 510 jobs linked directly to its operations.



PORT of Townsville is driving the $1.5 billion Port Expansion Project, involving widening the port’s channel. Two further stages involve construction of up to five new berths and swing basin and further deepening of the channel. A business case for an associated project, the $300 million Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor, is being done by the State Government, while the Federal Government already has committed $150 million.

The TEARC’s business case falls under the City Deal, which has reunited both levels of government to provide half of the $6 million required for an in-depth business case.


TOWNSVILLE Airport’s $40 million upgrade started early works in April with a $16 million aircraft parking expansion. The project has been at a standstill over Qantas’s refusal to impose a levy on its passengers, while Virgin has agreed to introduce the levy. Minor terminal upgrades have started while negotiations continue, with the next step involving the rental car operators moving to a new location and bathrooms being refurbished.


THE Townsville City Deal is set to strengthen Townsville’s position as a Northern Australia economic powerhouse. An implementation plan released in April details the key contributions of local, State and Federal governments to deliver on vital infrastructure for Townsville. It includes milestones for key projects like the CBD stadium, a convention centre, water security and the eastern access rail corridor – plus aims to deliver jobs and economic growth across the entire region by creating confidence for industry and investors.


IT’S not over the line yet, but the English cricket team along with their fanatical supporters, the Barmy Army, may be coming to Townsville.

Mayor Jenny Hill has confirmed the Townsville City Council has thrown its hat in the ring for an Ashes tour match next summer. Council has confirmed it is in discussions with Cricket Australia and if the city does secure a tour match between England and an Australian side it will happen from late this year to early next year at Tony Ireland Stadium — which has International Cricket Council accreditation and is regarded as one of the best playing grounds in regional Australia.


THE region will go under the international spotlight when it becomes the home of Commonwealth Games basketball next year.

Townsville will host basketball preliminary and qualifying finals, as one of only three cities outside of the Gold Coast to host official events. Jobs will also be created with plans for a festival atmosphere in the weeks leading up to the six-day sporting event. Ticket requests opened last month for the basketball matches held in Townsville from April 5 to 10. Successful applicants will be notified in late June.


The City Image committee was formed in late January and was tasked with improving Townsville’s image. The committee is chaired by Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill, and committee members include David Stefanovic, of the Australian Institute of Architects; Crista Harrison, of Stockland Commercial Property; Bridget Hart, of Aspect 8; Ken Tippett, of Ken Tippett Design; Zammi Rohan, of 9point9 Architects; Michael Baker, of Marketing Garage; and Steve Price, of 4TOFM. The City Image committee wanted to encourage a high level of community pride for all residents — not just in the CBD but also in the suburbs, Riverway and the northern beaches.


TOWNSVILLE to Melbourne inaugural Tigerair ­direct flights will start on June 22. Magnetic Island’s secluded beaches, Paluma’s rainforest and the region west of Townsville are expected to be at the forefront of the new marketing strategy — as well as the North’s weather. Townsville Enterprise, Queensland Airports, Tourism Events Queensland and Tigerair are working together to push the new flight path, but the airline is already recording demand with $10 flights direct to Melbourne after the announcement selling out. The 177 cheap seats sold within an hour after Tigerair announced it was launching four services a week from June 22. City leaders predict the airline will inject $12.5 million into the local economy.


THE potential creation of an underwater art museum off Townsville is under consideration with international artist Jason deCaires Taylor to visit from July 6-15. The artist will investigate a Great Barrier Reef Marine Park underwater art museum — including intertidal art installations for sites along The Strand and Magnetic Island plus major underwater art sites at Palm Island and the outer reefs off Townsville. The underwater museum would be the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, spearheaded by SeaLink Queensland, Reef Ecologic, Townsville City Council, Palm Island Shire Council, James Cook University and Townsville Enterprise. The project team will seek a public-private partnership model to fund the complete project.


A TRADE office is to be established in the city to push the State Government’s new trade and investment strategy. The new office, operating under the existing Trade and Investment Queensland agency, is expected to support six full-time staff, including a director who will focus on North Queensland and an officer dedicated to the international education and training sector. A site for the Townsville office is yet to be determined but ideally it would be co-located with government departments and agencies that have objectives in common.


THE MATER Hospital will open Townsville’s second emergency department before the end of this year. The former emergency department at the hospital’s Pimlico campus, which closed 15 years ago, will undergo a $1 million refurbishment starting early next month and will see 50 to 60 patients a day. The redevelopment is expected to take between four and five months. While it will be open to all residents, public health patients will pay an “access fee”. The new facility will operate between 7am and 11pm seven days a week creating at least 30 new jobs, including medical, nursing, orderly and administration positions. On-call specialists in cardiology and cardiac surgery, orthopedics, pediatrics, general surgery, general medicine, plastic surgery, urology and vascular surgery will also be available.


A PRIVATE hospital providing 22 beds and four operating theatres has been proposed for the site of the heritage-listed former Townsville West State School at West End. Developer the Griffin Group has lodged a development application with Townsville City Council for the project, which could be operating by late next year or early 2019. The
$55 million development will be called Weststate Private Hospital and provide 200 jobs during construction. It will deliver a hub of specialist services including orthopedics, cardiology, urology and maxillofacial surgery.


SWEDISH fashion giant H&M may not have formally announced it, but ask any retail worker at Stockland and they will tell you — H&M is coming. At Stockland Townsville an area of several thousand square metres of the most expensive retail real estate in town has been boarded off and construction workers are busy stripping out the floor, walls and ceiling. One worker said an access from the rooftop car park into the retail space was also being prepared — not, as some suggest, a second level above. Tenders website EstimateOne refers to a retail construction project at Aitkenvale called “H&M Townsville” requiring several types of trades people. More than a dozen shops have relocated from the Stockland area now being prepared.


A $10 MILLION redevelopment of the City Point shopping centre in Sturt St is well under way as Lancini Property and Development positions the CBD for the next phase of renewal. The property is being reconfigured to create large format tenancies and a new integrated, two-level building fronting the corner of Sturt and Stokes streets expanded from 3832sq m to 4693sq m into a vibrant mixed-use centre. The group has sought expressions of interest from A-grade commercial tenants and large-format retailers in sectors including electrical appliances, banking, homewares, sporting goods, services and general retail.


DEVELOPER Lendlease has revealed the job of building the first stages of the $4.7 billion masterplanned community, Elliot Springs, will be awarded to local contractors. This includes civil works for 82 residential lots and construction of a signalised intersection on the Bruce Highway.

The local contractors are yet to be named, but it’s forecast that the masterplanned community at Julago will bring 239 jobs to the Townsville region in its first three years of construction. The first stages are due to go ahead this month, pending final approvals from Townsville City Council and the Department of Main Roads and Transport. It’s full steam ahead for construction to start before mid-year for the development that will eventually house 26,000 people.


MORE than $95 million will be spent upgrading the Flinders Highway and Kennedy Developmental Road to improve safety and drive agriculture and tourism: $17 million for pavement strengthening and rehabilitation (Townsville to Torrens Creek); $25 million to upgrade culverts (Charters Towers to Richmond); $3.32 million to widen a section of the Kennedy Developmental Road (Mount Garnet to The Lynd); and $50 million to progressively seal the Kennedy Developmental Road (The Lynd to Hughenden). It will create 40 jobs over three years, with construction due to start mid-year.


A MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR tender to construct a new transfer station at Townsville’s Stuart Waste Facility has been awarded to a local contractor. Mendi Constructions Pty Ltd will undertake the $2.39 million contract which will help redirect waste from the tip and increase the reuse of recyclable goods. The 12-bay station is expected to become a primary dumping site for commercial use. A report tabled at a Townsville City Council meeting this month recommended it be built and funded over two financial years.


A PROPOSED city bus hub is on track, with the final round of community consultation under way and demolition tenders to go out shortly. The concept design for the Ogden St bus hub has been finalised with a tick of approval from the Department of Transport and Main Roads. Construction is still on track to start mid-year.


BMD Constructions has been awarded the construction contract to duplicate a 3km section of Riverway Drive, between Gollogly and Allambie lanes. Construction – supporting 82 jobs – would start this month to upgrade the vital transport link, which connects the Upper Ross with employment, education and service hubs. An additional $5 million committed by the State Government takes its value to $35 million and allows new pedestrian boardwalks along some sections of the riverbank and improved roadside parking for events.


This article is an extract from Townsville Bulletin written by ROANNE BOLDERY

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