BIG READ: Mackay will be Adani 'operational hub'

SHORTLY after Adani Group chairman Gautum Adani arrives at Townsville Airport Tuesday morning, the only airport in the region large enough to park his private jet, he's expected to announce Mackay as the Carmichael coal project's "operational hub".

By midday, he will have journeyed south to Abbot Point, and announced a rail construction and operational services hub will be built near Bowen, tipped to create more than 100 indirect jobs.

The breakdown

  • Townsville will secure regional headquarters
  • Mackay will be named "maintenance hub"
  • Bowen will secure a "rail construction and operational services hub"
  • Clermont, Emerald, Moranbah and Mackay likely to be named "procurement hubs"
  • Komatsu rumoured to secure "a major contract"
  • Townsville and Rockhampton are tipped to be FIFO hubs

Despite the effort that's gone into pitching the Mackay region as the prime location for the Adani regional administrative headquarters, which Townsville will be named as, leaders like Resource Industry Network chairman Tony Caruso have hailed this "a good result".

Particularly as further big announcements are expected to be made during the day.

"The office is not the prize. The prize is where the work will be done," Mr Caruso said.

"Operational service work is the most valuable piece of this."


Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson agreed, stating he "thinks it is better" to have Adani's maintenance work over its administrative centre.

"(Townsville securing the headquarters) is fine. I've got no problems with that," Cr Williamson said.

"The major thrust in supporting the Adani project will come from Mackay being the operational hub."

Groundwork was laid in establishing Mackay as the mining project's key operational hub earlier this year, when Downer EDI was named as its primary contractor.

Its only regional maintenance hub is in Mackay, which could put the region in prime position once the mine becomes operational and 900-1000 jobs are advertised.

While Mirani MP Jim Pearce called the "operational hub" designation "good news but common sense" given Paget's experience servicing the Bowen Basin, details about what the title will entail have not yet been made clear.

However, Cr Williamson believes an office "would absolutely" be built at Mackay to oversee the maintenance operations. He also believes Mackay would be looked to, ahead of other regions, for METS sector work.

The Port of Mackay will also be looked upon as a "vital link" for Adani, particularly if Mackay-based machinery company Komatsu wins a major supply contract, as has been rumoured.

Clermont, Emerald, Moranbah and Mackay are expected to be announced as "procurement hubs", the places Adani will look to follow through on a commitment to source all materials locally, unless it has no other option.

The rail construction and operational services hub will come as a significant boon for Bowen, given its fall in industry and rising unemployment rate.

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The hub will contribute to the $2b construction of 310km of rail line, stretching from the mine to Abbot Point port, a project brought one step closer last week after passing a key hurdle to acquire funding from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.

The facility would provide a concessional loan for up to 50% of the cost.

While the contract for line construction has not yet been awarded, Mr Caruso believes it will likely go to a specialist rail company.

However, he added there could be flow-on opportunities for local subcontractors.

Once Adani moves through pending court cases and secures a water licence from the State Government, the next stage would be gearing up for "pre-construction phase", tipped to create about 500 jobs.

State Government approval for the final part of the project, a 31.5km stretch of rail line and a 300-bed temporary workers camp, came through Monday.

The advantage in having the Downer headquarters

TOWNSVILLE might have Adani's regional headquarters, but the contractor set to offer 900-1000 jobs once the Carmichael coal mine is operational has its only regional maintenance hub at Mackay.

That could have the city well-positioned to secure what Resource Industry Network chairman Tony Caruso described as "the real prize" - the place where the "work will be done".

Earlier this year, Downer EDI was announced as the project's primary contractor.

The scope of works includes managing mining operations, loading and hauling of coal, and drilling and blasting; effectively running the Carmichael mine operation.

The company's only regional maintenance facility in the state is in Mackay, which is sure to provide advantages for the region when 900-1000 jobs are advertised, for the mine site operation.

Downer Mining East chief operating officer Kurt Baumgart said it could also lead to more jobs at its Mackay base.

The decision on whether Rockhampton, Mackay or Townsville, or a combination of all three, would be chosen as the project's FIFO hub would be made by Downer and Adani together.

While he said it was likely more than one regional FIFO hub would be selected, he said this wouldn't be decided until the middle of next year.

How did the pollies react to the news?

George Christensen (via Facebook): "Mackay and Bowen have scored the "meaty" part of the Adani Carmichael coal project..."

Michelle Landry (via office press statement): "...Labor's State Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne should take the blame for Central Queensland missing out on hosting Adani's regional headquarters. Rockhampton has missed out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because Bill Byrne failed to pull his weight. Bill Byrne in effect pulled Rockhampton out of the race...."

Jason Costigan (via Facebook): "Seriously, after the Premier came to Mackay back in early April with Adani's most senior executive in the country, this is a huge kick in the guts for Mackay..."

Julieanne Gilbert and Jim Pearce (via a joint office press statement): "Our region has suffered with the mining downturn.  Carmichael Coal is an opportunity for our region to be part of the project as an employee or a supplier," Ms Gilbert and Mr Pearce said. "We want to work with Adani and local businesses to maximise their role in this $21.7 billion project."