Aurizon commits to renewable hydrogen plan

Freight haulage operator, Aurizon, aims to deploy four hydrogen-fuelled prime movers on the road in Townsville and create opportunities for other businesses to convert their fleets to new technology fuel.

Aurizon is a successful applicant through round two of the $35 million Hydrogen Industry Development Fund (HIDF).

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Steven Miles, said the Government would build transmission infrastructure from Townsville to Hughenden, connecting the North West Minerals Province to the new electricity Super Grid.

“Connecting Hughenden and Townsville will unlock more renewables and is a critical step to connecting Mount Isa to the grid,” he said.

“We’re also working on fast tracking the connection to Mount Isa and the North West Minerals Province, which would unlock hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.”

Minister for Energy, Hydrogen and Renewables, Mick de Brenni, said the clean energy transformation in Townsville had already generated around $800 million investment in more than 400 MW of large-scale renewable energy, creating more than 900 jobs.

“The plan will create 64,000 jobs in clean energy infrastructure including new skilled jobs in construction of transmission and renewable energy projects,” said de Brenni.

“Connecting Mount Isa to the transmission network represents a unique opportunity to support a clean energy industrial ecosystem from the North West Minerals Province to Townsville, growing opportunities for jobs in the clean energy economy.”

Round two was the HIDF’s biggest investment so far in Queensland’s growing hydrogen supply chain according to de Brenni.

“Aurizon’s project is another important step on Townsville’s journey to becoming a global green hydrogen superpower,” he said.

Aurizon Managing Director and CEO, Andrew Harding, said renewable hydrogen offers enormous opportunities to Australia’s transport industry.

“Renewable hydrogen is one of the emerging energy options that will assist industry to decarbonise operations throughout the supply chain while remaining cost competitive,” said Harding.

“Aurizon is Australia’s largest rail freight company and renewable hydrogen will play an important role in enabling us to reach our target of net zero operational emissions by 2050.

“Queensland Government funding will assist us to look at replacing diesel-powered trucks with new technology hydrogen fuel cell electric heavy vehicles.”

Minister for Resources and Member for Townsville, Scott Stewart, said Aurizon was prioritising renewable energy projects that will utilise locally produced hydrogen.

“Aurizon plans to use four hydrogen-powered prime movers to haul goods in and around its freight operations at Stuart Terminal and the Port of Townsville,” said Stewart.

“It’s projects like this that have allowed us to deliver the transforming Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan because we’re a government that invests and we have a private sector that has confidence in Queensland.”

Member for Mundingburra and North Queensland Hydrogen Champion, Les Walker, said Townsville’s publicly owned port was well positioned.

“The prime movers are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 1,000 tonnes per year, representing a major reduction in its use of diesel fuel for road transport,” he said.

“Aurizon plans to build a refuelling station in Townsville and source hydrogen from another company that’s also progressing renewable hydrogen use in the north, Ark Energy.

“Just last week Townsville’s own Ark Energy signed the first MOU for international green energy exports from North Queensland.”

Member for Thuringowa, Aaron Harper, said The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan would set Townsville and North Queensland up to be a renewable industry leader.

“By providing more clean, reliable, and affordable energy we can shore up our existing industry and bring more manufacturing jobs home,” he said.

“Because we kept energy assets in public hands, we have unprecedented control over our own destiny and this plan locks in Queensland’s energy security for the future.

“The Government is investing in projects like Aurizon’s hydrogen-fuelled trial to prioritise new opportunities and more jobs in our existing and new industries.”

Annually, Aurizon reports to transport more than 250 million tonnes of commodities which connect miners, primary producers and industry with markets both international and domestic.

It provides customers with integrated freight and logistics solutions across an extensive national rail and road network.

The company also owns and operates one of the world’s largest coal rail networks, linking approximately 50 mines with three major ports in Queensland.

In related news, Aurizon is developing a $5.0 million multi-modal rail terminal at Townsville Port.

The project involves investing in a direct rail corridor into Aurizon Port Services’s (APS) container and handling park, with almost two kilometres of track across three rail lines. This means APS customers in North Queensland will have access to the full range of multi-modal solutions – road, rail and port – for their logistics requirements.

Aurizon is creating efficient pathways for export commodities in North Queensland, helping unlock development opportunities for customers, as well as income and jobs for regional economies. A key focus for Aurizon is harnessing the economic, environmental and safety benefits of putting more bulk freight on rail on the Mount Isa corridor.

Aurizon sees continued growth in commodities such as copper, lead and zinc that are the foundation of the North West Minerals Province, as well as industrial and agricultural products from the region. In addition, there is a new phase of development projects for new-economy commodities such as vanadium for large-scale renewable batteries and high-grade phosphate required for fertilisers.

APS provides bulk transport, handling and stevedoring services with bulk storage warehouses and handling facilities at the Port of Townville, adjacent to rail lines. APS integrates with Aurizon’s existing bulk rail haulage operations between Townsville and Mount Isa and allows Aurizon to aggregate products onto rail as part of end to end logistics service for customers.

In June 2021, Aurizon Port Services (APS) completed the $2.0 million stage one of its Port investment program, including a 10,000 square metre concrete pad with capacity for 1,200 shipping containers.

The $5.0 million stage two now underway comprises laying down almost two kilometres of rail track; a 270-metre runway for heavy-lift reach-stackers to directly access trainloads and the container park, and upgrades to allow for efficient truck movements to the site.

Work commenced on site in June and is scheduled for completion in late 2022. Local contractors Gabrielli Construction, who delivered stage one of the project, were re-engaged for the stage two works.

“This $5 million investment is a big vote of confidence in the North Queensland economy,” said Jackie Gregory, the Aurizon Port Services Manager based in Townsville.

“With the development of an efficient multi-modal terminal for its customers, Aurizon has the platform for growth across next decade.

“Aurizon has a growing list of industrial and mining customers here in the North who are keen to grow their business and tap into a seamless logistics chain between the North West Minerals Province and the Port.

“It means that Aurizon Port Services can deliver the capacity for our growing tonnages here at the Port, and continue to drive productivity and operational improvements for the benefit of both our customers and the Aurizon business.

“Aurizon Port Services sees such strong growth in the region. This extends beyond the commodities such as copper, lead and zinc that are the foundation of the North West Minerals Province. We are now seeing the development of those future-facing commodities that will fuel and the feed the world in the decades to come such as vanadium and high-grade phosphate.”

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