EARTHED: Labor looks to the ground to deliver jobs

The Labor state government has secured as many as 2000 jobs in North Queensland's mining and minerals processing sector as part of a regional COVID-19 recovery plan.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a multimillion-dollar incentive payment to Glencore aimed at securing its copper operations in Mount Isa and Townsville for a further three years.

It also committed $30m to the Big Rocks Weir project, $10m to the DriveIt NQ motorsport facility, $19m to duplicate another section of Riverway Drive and $2m for a maritime testing facility in Townsville.

The one-off incentive for the mining company will underpin almost 2000 indirect and direct jobs in the North West Minerals Province and Townsville.

"I'm not going to stand by and let people lose their jobs," Ms Palaszczuk said in Townsville.

"We are going to back Glencore. We are going to back the people in Townsville and Mount Isa."

Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk in Townsville at Glencore Copper Refinery to announce the governmentÕs North Queensland Recovery Plan. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk in Townsville at Glencore Copper Refinery to announce the governmentÕs North Queensland Recovery Plan. Picture: Alix Sweeney

But she would not reveal the dollar value of the incentive, saying it was commercial in confidence.

Ms Palaszczuk said the entire recovery plan would help kickstart the Townsville economy from the impacts of COVID-19 and build on the investments her government had already made to Townsville.

She said the plan would focus on the North's traditional strengths in the resources and manufacturing industries.

The Glencore incentive will support 350 jobs in the Mount Isa copper smelter, 220 jobs in the Townsville copper refinery and a further 1500 jobs indirectly.

The smelter supports the copper refinery, while it is also linked, through the supply of acid produced at the smelter, with Incitec Pivot's fertiliser plant at Phosphate Hill and, in turn, Townsville's zinc refinery, also through its supply of acid to Incitec Pivot.

The support package will allow for the four-yearly rebricking and maintenance of the smelter, due in September next year.

Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk in Townsville at Glencore Copper Refinery to announce the governmentÕs North Queensland Recovery Plan. Pictured with Treasurer Cameron Dick and CPL employees. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk in Townsville at Glencore Copper Refinery to announce the governmentÕs North Queensland Recovery Plan. Pictured with Treasurer Cameron Dick and CPL employees. Picture: Alix Sweeney

In recent months there has been concern Glencore could close its smelter and refinery because of international competition and high fixed costs in Australia.

Glencore Chief Operating Officer Matt O'Neill said the incentive would go "a long way" to levelling the playing field.

"It allows Glencore to continue to invest half a billion dollars into the operation of the smelter and the refinery over the coming years, which I think is really important for all of us," Mr O'Neill said.

The company also pledged to explore the feasibility of large scale e-recycling or custom smelting.

Incitec Pivot managing director Jeanne Johns said the State Government's support was a vote of confidence for the region.

"The Government's investment will support north Queensland's industrial capability and provide certainty for businesses and jobs in the region," Ms Johns said.

"This commitment underpins fertiliser supply and manufacturing at Mount Isa and Phosphate Hill facilities, ensuring that major employers like us can continue to provide jobs to support the agricultural sector.

"Incitec Pivot is committed to this region which is a key economic zone for the State and will play a crucial role in the economic recovery of Queensland." Opposition spokesman for resources Dale Last welcomed the Government's support of the sector but said it took too long to act.

Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk in Townsville at Glencore Copper Refinery to announce the governmentÕs North Queensland Recovery Plan. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk in Townsville at Glencore Copper Refinery to announce the governmentÕs North Queensland Recovery Plan. Picture: Alix Sweeney

"What the resources industry really needs is a state government that recognises the value of the sector at all times and a government that is prepared to give them certainty to allow for new jobs to be created," the Burdekin MP said.

"The LNP has given a commitment to freezing royalties for 10 years because certainty allows for growth and growth creates new jobs and more revenue for the state."

A spokesman for the CopperString transmission line project, Joseph O'Brien, said the announcement would provide short to medium term security for the mineral and manufacturing industries but a longer term solution was needed.

"The medium to longer term foundations of our new economy industrial mining and operations need the CopperString transmission network investment to provide more competitively priced power," Mr O'Brien said.

Townsville Enterprise Ltd chief executive Patricia O'Callaghan said the recovery package was designed specifically for the region with a focus on jobs.

Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk in Townsville at Glencore Copper Refinery to announce the governmentÕs North Queensland Recovery Plan. Treasurer Cameron Dick speaks to the media. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk in Townsville at Glencore Copper Refinery to announce the governmentÕs North Queensland Recovery Plan. Treasurer Cameron Dick speaks to the media. Picture: Alix Sweeney

"It's not just one project but a package that opens up new opportunities for business and industry in the north," Ms O'Callaghan said.

"We have consistently called for all governments to look at the symbiotic relationship between Townsville and the North West as we know when the west is thriving the east is thriving. "This package acknowledges that important relationship through recognition of Townsville's essential role in the processing and export of minerals from the North West and contribution to the state and national economies," she said.

Originally published as EARTHED: Labor looks to the ground to deliver jobs



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