Queensland breaks ground on $5bn CopperString project


Work has begun on the CopperString project that will deliver an almost 1,000-kilometre high-voltage line between Townsville and Mount Isa with the first sod turned on the workforce accommodation being built at Hughenden, about 375 km west of Townsville in Queensland’s north.

The Coppersting project, being led by Queensland government-owned network operator Powerlink and hailed as the biggest expansion to Australia’s energy grid in decades, involves building 840 km of new electricity transmission line that will connect Mount Isa to the National Electricity Market (NEM) near Townsville.

This includes a 500 kV transmission line from just south of Townsville to Hughenden that will allow access to renewable generation in the Flinders Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) which has the potential to be one of the largest REZs in Australia.

A 330 kV transmission line will extend from Hughenden to Cloncurry with a 220 kV line from Cloncurry to Mount Isa. The project will also include up to six new substation sites and Powerlink said about 200 km of additional transmission line will be required to connect new renewable generators to CopperString.

While work on the accommodation facilities has already started, construction of the high-voltage transmission line is due to commence mid-2025 on the section from Hughenden west towards Mount Isa. Once that section is complete, work will start on the eastern stretch of the line from Hughenden back to Townsville.

Powerlink said the build is expected to be finished in 2029, weather and construction conditions permitting.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles said the project is the most significant investment in economic infrastructure in north Queensland in generations, declaring it will supercharge the region and unlock a vast amount of critical minerals and renewables.

“CopperString will be the catalyst for transforming Queensland’s north and northwest,” he said. “It will allow us to develop the mines that will mine the critical minerals the world needs to decarbonise in the future and it will connect the fantastic solar and wind resources here to heavy industry in Townsville and beyond.”

Powerlink, which has appointed Cimic Group companies UGL and CPB Contractors joint venture partners, said the project presents an “incredible economic opportunity” for regional Queensland, with the chance for local businesses to take a lead role in delivering the project.

To facilitate this, Powerlink will later this month host the first of a series of workshops for businesses along the CopperString corridor to build their capabilities to bid on major projects and supply chain work in the region.

The initiative is intended to help local suppliers develop their capacity on will touch on topics including understanding what major project buyers want from suppliers, and how to be compliant with major project requirements.

The first workshop is in Hughenden on 23 July, followed by Richmond on 25 July.

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