$5.4 billion in Federal funding for Hells Gates Dam

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The Federal Government has locked in $5.4 billion to build the Hells Gates Dam in North Queensland which will create thousands of jobs while delivering water security for the region, particularly for the agriculture sector.

The Hell’s Gate Dam project has been in discussion since 1938 and has been the subject of a number of investigations in the 1970s through to 2014.

Through the 2022–23 Budget, the Government will guarantee funding to build the dam, subject to the completion of the final stage of the business case, expected in June this year.

The Hells Gates Dam Business Case is now 70% complete.

Hells Gates is anticipated to open up as much as 60,000 hectares of irrigation across three agricultural zones in the Burdekin, supported through a 2,100-gigalitre dam and bolstered by three downstream irrigation weirs.

The project is expected to create more than 7,000 jobs and inject up to $1.3 billion of Gross Regional Product (GRP) into North Queensland’s economy during construction alone.

During operations, new and expanded agricultural opportunities are expected to support more than 3,000 regional jobs and generate up to $6 billion in GRP.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said delivering water infrastructure in North Queensland was vital to securing a strong economy while supporting farmers and industry.

“We need to build more dams in Australia. Building dams makes our economy stronger by supporting our agricultural industries to realise their true potential,” the Prime Minister said.

“Water is a precious resource and we need more dams to better use that resource.

“We’ve done the homework on Hells Gates Dam and it’s now time to get on and build it. We have put our money on the table, so let’s cut the green tape, get the approvals and get it done.

“This dam will help turn the Burdekin region into an agricultural powerhouse, helping our farmers to stock supermarkets and feed Australia while also securing North Queensland’s water supply and security.

Today’s announcement builds on the suite of dams and water infrastructure projects the Coalition is already investing in and delivering across Queensland, including:

  • $600 million towards the restoration of Paradise Dam;
  • $505.65 towards the delivery and construction of Urannah Dam;
  • $183.6 million towards the Rookwood Weir;
  • $180 million towards the Hughenden Irrigation Scheme; and
  • $30 million towards the Big Rocks Weir.

SMEC was engaged by Townsville Enterprise Limited (TEL) to undertake the Hell’s Gate Dam and Irrigation Scheme Feasibility Study which determined the dam’s engineering, environmental and economic feasibility.

The findings of the study defined that the Hells Gates Dam Irrigation Project has the potential to redefine Northern Queensland’s agriculture sector and underpin long term export market growth and investment.

Sources: Commonwealth of Australia, SMEC, Townsville Enterprise

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