IN the midst of a drought, with talk of evacuation of the entire township still in the air, Cloncurry in the heart of the North West Mineral Province just wants to secure its future with a new dam.
Cave Hill is a potential dam site on the Cloncurry River, located approximately 20km upstream of the township that has been talked about for 40 years.
Cloncurry Mayor Andrew Daniels said the time for talk is over and we need to act now.
“Cave Hill Dam is a guaranteed water supply,” Cr Daniels said.
“Once erected the Cave Hill Dam could service the Cloncurry Township, Ernest Henry Mining, CopperChem Great Australia, Cudeco Rocklands Group, MMG Dugald River, as well as attracting future development,” he said.
“The North West Queensland Mineral Province and our local industry need this. Water is just as important as the exploration of the mineral.”
In 2012/13, Queensland Resource Council reported Cloncurry LGA contributed $119 million in royalties, fourth highest in the state.
Cloncurry and some local mines are currently accessing water via the Lake Julius pipeline.
Responsible water use and water re-use initiatives are already being used, but it is not enough.
“The Cave Hill project would take a lot of pressure of Mount Isa City Council, Mount Isa Mines and Lake Julius,” he said.
“Although there are opportunities for future development, such as irrigation, Cave Hill is about sustaining existing mining and the township, as well as providing security for future developments.”
Cr Daniels said Cave Hill dam could potentially store 248GL, 2.1 times the size of Lake Julius, Cloncurry’s current source of water.
“At a time when the Federal Government is delivering up a white paper for the development Northern Australia, you would think a big ticket item like this would be put right to the top.
“Particularly, when the Federal Government have shown support for mining and development in the region.”
Cr Daniels said the erection of a new dam would set a precedent to show businesses that the Federal Government considers the development of Northern Australia a high priority.
“If the Federal Government is fair dinkum about Australia being open for business, then big ticket infrastructure projects like this must happen.
“We need to look at sustainable infrastructure which gives the great North West opportunities to grow, not just Cloncurry Shire, but Mount Isa, Boulia, Burke, Carpentaria, McKinlay, Richmond, Croydon, Flinders, Winton and Diamantina.”
In December 2013, CSIRO released the Agricultural Resource Assessment for the Flinders Catchment, as part of the Flinders and Gilbert Agricultural Resource Assessment.
The assessment highlighted the water storage potential of the Cave Hill Dam.
The report stated Cave Hill is a potential dam site on the Cloncurry River, located approximately 20km upstream of Cloncurry and upstream of a significant area (>70,000 ha) of soils that are suitable for irrigation.
The report also stated the optimum construction for the potential Cave Hill dam is a zoned earth and rock fill embankment dam with an earth full embankment saddle dam, both of which could be built for an estimated $250 million.