Peter Holt

Risky future for Bowen and Galilee basins

THE Bowen Basin faces losing major coal mining projects in the next five years as the focus shifts towards the Galilee Basin and coal seam gas in south-east Queensland.

But a report also shows an uncertain future for funding infrastructure in the Galilee Basin has put it at risk too.

The annual Major Projects Report released on Tuesday shows the demand for skilled labour in construction moving away from the Bowen Basin and into the Galilee Basin in the next five years.

Most coal projects in the Bowen Basin are either underway or nearing completion. And while there are nine other coal mining infrastructure projects listed for the Bowen Basin in the next five years totalling about $4 billion, none of these are funded yet.

The projects report, which Queensland Major Contractors Association and Construction Skills Queensland released, listed projects around the state that are worth more than $100 million.

It stated the outlook for Queensland's major projects after 2016 depended heavily on two projects - the expansion of the state's LNG infrastructure and opening up the Galilee Basin.

"These projects alone are expected to contribute $14.2 billion in major project work (out of a Queensland total of $52.5 billion) between 2015-16 and 2018-19 and are a key driver of the projected upswing in activity," the report said.

The report has based the assumption that construction of Adani's Galilee Basin project would start in the 2015-16 financial year. The report's author, senior economist Adrian Hart, said there was a risk this project could be delayed.

He said the biggest risk for the Galilee Basin was not having a funded railway line.

"For this report, it has been assumed that major construction will begin on one Galilee Basin coal mine in 2015-16, along with associated infrastructure," he said.

"This will be followed by a second project from 2016-17, as well as a spur line.

"However, there remains significant risk that the cost of developing these projects, relative to current and expected coal prices, may see activity delayed beyond the current timeframe."

Mr Hart called for governments to look at investing in more public infrastructure.

During a presentation, Mr Hart said publicly-funded investments had dropped over the years. While he said governments did not have a bottomless pit of money, he said it needed to make sure it invested in projects that made the best economic sense. 

Galilee Basin projects:

  • Rail infrastructure $2.5 billion
  • Infrastructure spur line $600 million
  • Flood mitigation and water supply dam $300 million
  • Water supply pipeline $600 million
  • Transmission project $300 million
  • Coal project $1 billion (Adani)
  • Coal project $2.2 billion (GVK)


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