The Australian government has provided key approvals for the construction and operation of the CopperString 2.0 project, an 1,100-kilometre, high voltage electricity transmission network that would connect Mount Isa and the North West Minerals Province to the national electricity grid near Townsville in north Queensland.
CuString Managing Director Joseph O’Brien said the federal government approval has been granted under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act and follows the Queensland government’s recent approval of the project’s environmental impact statement.
“With the federal and state government environmental approvals and appropriate conditions in place, CopperString is the most advanced major electricity transmission project under development, and it can be shovel ready imminently,” O’Brien told Newscorp.
Hailed as the largest geographical expansion of the National Electricity Market (NEM) since it was established, the $2.5 billion (USD 1.6 billion) project would provide connection options for mining and industrial customers in the region and open up enormous tracts of land previously closed to solar and wind development.
“CopperString will be the first mover in building major transmission that links directly to the critical minerals and renewable energy drivers of global decarbonisation, and it will be the largest and most impactful expansion of the 40,000-km NEM since it commenced almost 25 years ago,” O’Brien said.
“CopperString is the key to developing Australia’s critical mineral potential in North West Minerals Province and building the clean industrial ecosystem across the Townsville to Mount Isa corridor that already exports refined zinc, copper and other minerals to the world, and is home to Australia’s best renewable energy resources.”
While O’Brien described the latest approvals as a major milestone for the project, no start date for construction has yet been determined. Though the early contractor involvement process has already been completed.
“We would like to start work in 2023,” O’Brien added. “We are ready to build.”
CopperString is expected to create up to 800 full-time equivalent jobs during construction and support up to 100 jobs ongoing in operations and maintenance for the asset. However, the economic benefits, such as the development of new large-scale wind and solar projects, are forecast to translate into an additional 3,500 full-time equivalent jobs by 2050.
“Over 3,000 MW of new renewable generation projects have commenced grid connection process via CopperString for access to the NEM,” O’Brien said.
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