The Powerlink-led CopperString 2032 project, formerly known as CopperString 2.0, initially involves building 840km of new electricity transmission line from just south of Townsville in the Burdekin region to Mount Isa that will connect Queensland’s North West Minerals Province (NWMP) to the National Electricity Market. Approximately 200km of additional transmission line will be required to connect new renewable generators to CopperString.
The overall expanded project has a budget of $5 billion and includes:
- 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission line from just south of Townsville to Hughenden
- 330kV transmission line from Hughenden to Cloncurry
- 220kV transmission line from Cloncurry to Mount Isa
- up to six new substation sites.
Powerlink is progressing early works on the project in 2023 ahead of construction commencing in 2024. The project is expected to be completed by 2029.
Powerlink is committed to ongoing genuine and timely engagement to ensure we deliver positive outcomes for landholders, local communities, other stakeholders and the environment where our transmission infrastructure is located.
We will promote opportunities for participation ahead of time and encourage local communities to get involved as the project progresses.
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Local supplier opportunities
We’re working with the UGL CPB Contractors Joint Venture to maximise local employment and procurement opportunities wherever possible for CopperString 2032.
The first works packages for local suppliers to register their interest in CopperString 2032 have now been released. The packages cover a range of activities and services such as engineering, construction, environmental management, logistics, camp construction, haulage and communications.
Register Local Supplier Interest
In partnership with the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning and UGL CPB Contractors, we hosted a local supplier road show across the project area.
Over more than two weeks Industry Briefing sessions took place in Mt Isa, Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Richmond, Hughenden, Charters Towers, Ayr and Townsville. More than 600 people attended to learn how they could potentially contribute to the project.
For all other local supplier or project procurement queries, please contact the UGL CPB Contractors Joint Venture procurement team.
The latest on the project
On October 30, 2023 the Queensland Government announced $1.3 billion to advance the construction of the $5 billion CopperString 2032 project.
The funding will get the project ready for construction to commence mid-2024, a significant milestone towards unlocking the North West Minerals Province, and the renewable energy potential of North Queensland.
Changes to the project
The transmission line from just south of Townsville in the Burdekin region to Hughenden is now planned to be constructed at 500kV instead of 330kV. This will allow increased access to renewable generation in the Flinders Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) which has the potential to be one of the largest REZs in Australia.
This connection forms part of the Queensland SuperGrid which will allow a planned and cohesive approach to the transition to renewable energy within Queensland and forms part of the Queensland Jobs and Energy Plan.
The change to the project also means we need to submit an ‘application for project change’.
Powerlink is working with Queensland Government agencies, including the Office of the Coordinator-General and the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (DSDILGP), to determine the next steps in the approvals process.
Following statutory approvals of the expanded 500kV section of the project, it is expected that additional planning and approvals for the delivery of CopperString 2032 will proceed via the Queensland Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning under the Ministerial Infrastructure Designation (MID) process. This process is managed by DSDILGP with input from other government agencies.
At the same time, work is continuing on field and geotechnical investigations, cultural heritage and ecological surveys, stakeholder engagement and landholder consultation.
Early works underway
Powerlink signed off on a $20 million early works package with CIMIC Group companies UGL and CPB Contractors in June 2023.
This package is focused on progressing the project’s detailed engineering design, field and geotechnical surveys and geotechnical works.
Due to the size and scope of CopperString 2032, the project will be broken down into work fronts with construction occurring in multiple locations at the same time to ensure safe travel distances for workers and timely project delivery.
As such, we expect to lodge several MID proposals and are currently undertaking preliminary engagement with impacted landholders, communities and other stakeholders to ensure anyone with an interest in the project has an opportunity to provide initial feedback before proposals are lodged.
Following lodgement of each MID proposal, the Minister will initiate consultation by writing to relevant local governments and impacted landholders to invite submissions. Submissions must be made to the Minister via the DSDILGP website.
During this time, Powerlink will also undertake public consultation with landholders, community members and other key stakeholders to share project information and how to make a submission to the department.
To date, work has focused on progressing transmission line design, statutory approvals and engagement with landholders and other key stakeholders along the proposed alignment.
The project was declared a ‘coordinated project’ by the Queensland Coordinator-General in April 2019 under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 and a controlled action under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) in May 2019.
An Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) contract for the project was awarded to CIMIC Group companies UGL and CPB Contractors in March 2021 following public consultation on the project’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) between December 2020 and February 2021.
The ECI phase of the project includes scoping, designing, site investigations and pricing.
The project’s EIS was approved to proceed, with conditions, by the Queensland Coordinator-General in September 2022 and referred to the Australian Government for approval.
A delegate for the Australian Minister for the Environment and Water approved the ‘CopperString Transmission Line Project’ as a controlled action under the EPBC Act subject to conditions in November 2022.
Powerlink took ownership of the project from Townsville-based CuString Pty Ltd in March 2023 and will now lead delivery of the project to completion.