NT mining town transitions to tourism hub powered by renewables


The Northern Territory’s government plans to “turbocharge tourism” in the regional town of Jabiru, which lies at heart of Kakadu and the West Arnhem Region. Originally built to service Ranger uranium mine, which will cease operations next year, the town is set to undergo a seismic shift as it becomes 50% powered by renewables.

The Gunner government yesterday announced $10 million for upgrades and repairs to ensure the town’s electricity network is ready for the new generation supplied by a hybrid power station.

In 2019, the government put out a call for Expressions of Interest to take over powering the 1000 person town once the diesel generators at the Ranger Uranium Mine retire. Interested parties were required to be able to deliver at least half renewables, in line with the government’s renewable energy targets of 50% by 2030. The call, it seems, has been answered – although details remain somewhat hazy.

“The major procurement process for the hybrid power station will be finalised in the New Year, with the plant to be up and running by the end of 2021,” the Gunner government said in a statement. Precisely how the town will be powered is yet to be revealed, although it is expected solar will play a major role given the territory’s makeup.

The investment is part of a $135.5 million plan to transition the mining town to major tourism hub over the next two years. Alongside the energy network upgrades, the town will also see new education precinct, a multi-use health clinic and rollout of the NBN.

“Jabiru has the potential to be a real draw card for Territorians and visitors alike,” NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said. “The Territory Labor Government’s ongoing investment in critical services and infrastructure is helping the township get there, to ensure it prospers sustainably for years to come.”

“These upgrades will not only mean Jabiru residents have access to the very best services, but work will continue to flow for local tradies,” he added. “We know how important it is to keep Territorians working during the coronavirus crisis, and this investment will see plenty of local jobs in the pipeline.”

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