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Plans unveiled for massive $3.5 billion wind and solar powered green iron project for Queensland

Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners has thrown its hefty investment weight behind ambitious plans to convert Queensland magnetite ore into green iron, using the state’s vast wind and solar resources and and one biggest renewable hydrogen projects under development in Australia.

The $3.5 billion Gladstone Green Iron project centres on a “world class” magnetite ore deposit and its ready access to what Quinbrook describes as the “exact fundamentals” to produce and export green iron, including existing port and transmission infrastructure and abundant renewables.

In partnership with Central Queensland Metals (CQM), Quinbrook says it will sponsor the evaluation and testing of CQM’s Eulogie vanadiferous titanomagnetite ore deposit, 70km west of Gladstone, to prove its quality and scale.

The project will then extend to the exploration, development, mining and concentration of Eulogie desposit, the transport of concentrated ore to the Gladstone State Development Zone, and the potential production of green iron using hydrogen produced by the Central Queensland Hydrogen Project (CQ-H2).

The massive 2.2GW CQ-H2 project – described by the Queensland government as the biggest in Australia – is currently undergoing Front End Engineering Design (FEED) work being conducted by Worley.

The project, backed by a consortium of Australian, Singaporean and Japanese companies, includes plans to install up to 640 megawatts (MW) of electrolysers and produce up to 200 tonnes per day of gaseous renewable hydrogen by 2028, to be used as ammonia or liquid hydrogen.

Quinbrook said on Monday it has secured exclusive rights over land adjacent to CQ-H2 and is in discussions with the state-owned Stanwell Corporation on the supply of hydrogen, as well as on the supply of firm renewables to support both CQ-H2 and the power needs of the Gladstone Green Iron project.

To this end, Quinbrook notes it is already developing a portfolio of renewable energy and storage projects in central Queensland dedicated to powering energy intensive manufacturing projects planned for the Gladstone region.

Planning is also said to be underway for the green iron elements of the Gladstone project and Quinbrook is in the process of selecting an industry partner to take over its design, construction and operation once development work is further progressed and approvals secured.

The huge new project follows last week’s federal budget allocation of $6.7 billion in tax incentives for the development of green hydrogen production in Australia – an incentive iron ore billionaire and Fortescue Metals chief Andrew Forrest says will fast-track the development of the green iron industry.

“Fortescue believes that commercial production of green iron in Australia is now possible and must be pursued,” Forrest said on Tuesday, following the budget announcement.

Tim Buckley, the executive director Climate energy Finance has similarly pinpointed green iron as “the number one opportunity” for Australia in the zero emissions global economy and a $100 billion a year export value uplift opportunity.

“These are the exact fundamentals that hopeful green steel producers need and are scouring the planet for and we have them right here in Gladstone,” Quinbrook co-founder and managing partner David Scaysbrook said on Monday.

“This is exactly the type of project the ‘Made in Australia’ and critical minerals policies of the federal and Queensland state governments are designed to support and the recent federal budget announcements have given us and our partners the confidence to get on with it.

“We thank the federal and Queensland governments for their bold and visionary policy initiatives and their ongoing support of plans for new Australian manufacturing which is attracting the attention of the world’s leading investors who are the same investors driving real progress in the global energy transition,” said Scaysbrook.

Brian Restall, Quinbrook’s managing director and regional leader says the Gladstone Green Iron project is “unquestionably ambitious,” not least in that it directly addresses the hopes for Australia’s manufacturing renaissance.

“Whilst in its early stages, we believe the project has the potential to create a significant new infrastructure investment and export opportunity in the same way that Queensland’s coal seam gas resources have already done,” he said on Monday.

“Quinbrook has built a reputation for devising differentiated investment strategies that create the new infrastructure assets needed to progress the energy transition.

“With Gladstone Green Iron, we are using our long established project development DNA to identify unique industrial sites that can host new green manufacturing and processing industries benefitting from globally competitive operating costs including Quinbrook supplied renewable power,” Restall said.

Along similar lines, Quinbook is also progressing the nearly $8 billion Project Green Poly, which proposes to create one of Australia’s first integrated mine-to-manufacturing supply chains for polysilicon – a key ingredient in the manufacture of solar PV.

The plans were unveiled in October last year, when Quinbrook also revealed it had secured a 200 hectare parcel of land at the Lansdown Eco-Industrial Precinct in Townsville to build the facility.

Not unlike Gladstone Green Iron, Project Green Poly aims to source high quality silica quartz from the North Queensland region, and to create around 4400 jobs in and around Townsville during construction and operation of the facility over a period of 30 years or more.

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