Mackay, located 1,100 kilometres north of Brisbane, is the gateway to the magnificent Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. The region is known for its scenic beaches, relaxed tropical lifestyle and recreational attractions.

Economy

Mackay is Queensland’s premier coal region, producing 50% of the state’s coal. The Mackay and Whitsunday region has experienced population and economic growth fuelled mainly by global demand for resources that are mined in the west. Regional strengths centre on world demand for energy, that drive specialty mining and engineering services. In the Whitsundays, tourism is the largest sector, with an emphasis on lifestyle and high quality food production.

Major projects

  • Eagle Downs Mine – Moranbah
  • Caval Ridge Mine – BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance
  • Byerwen Mine – Byerwen Coal Pty Ltd
  • Grosvenor Mine – Anglo American Metallurgical Coal Ltd

Regional strengths

Mackay and Moranbah are major service centres for the region and support the coal mining operations of the Bowen and Galilee basins. The Bowen Basin is home to some of the world’s best quality coal reserves and is the largest coal reserve in Australia.

New activity in the Galilee Basin and opportunities in alternative energy, fuels and bio-based industrial products will see this area expand its coal interests to also become a leading producer of bio-based products in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020.Expansion will require development of pipeline, transport, and electricity generation and distribution infrastructure. Skills such as engineering and construction trades will continue to be in demand.

Mackay’s general cargo port is vital for fuel distribution into resource areas, with coal ports at both Hay Point and Abbott Point. There are opportunities to use both developed and undeveloped industrial land at the port of Mackay for activities relating to:

  • sugar, grain and fuel
  • the shipping function of the port
  • other port-related industrial development
  • marine services activity
  • cold storage facilities.

Abbot Point is Australia’s most northerly deep water coal port. Over the next 20 years the Queensland coal industry will be increasing production to around 340 million tonnes per annum with Abbot Point meeting a large portion of the required port capacity. This will help Queensland meet the growing global demand for our high quality coal.

The Queensland mining industry is supported by these major ports in a variety of ways. The proximity to deepwater ports, a competitive rail system, bulk water and a low cost, reliable electricity supply have combined to help establish the region as a major hub for energy-intensive mineral processing industries, particularly alumina, aluminium and magnesia.

Agriculture

The Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region has a resilient agricultural sector and is Queensland’s largest sugar region. Opportunities exist to add further value to our produce prior to export. Queensland’s crop producing lands are among Australia’s most valuable, expansion will see demand grow for transport infrastructure to allow produce to be kept fresh for domestic and overseas markets.

The region has a long established sugar industry with extensive, integrated transport facilities, established markets and five milling facilities. The main areas of sugar cane production are Mackay City, Sarina, Mirani, Whitsunday and the Western region of Isaac. The established sugar and agricultural industries, along with a resources-based economy, provide a strong foundation for regional industry expansion.

The Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region is home to five sugar mills – Racecourse, Proserpine, Farleigh, Sarina and Marian. These mills produce around 420,000 tonnes of refined sugar per year, which is about one-third of the total refined sugar in Australia.

Growing global demand for bio-fuels is increasing demand for sugar cane production and placing upward pressure on prices. With some overseas sugar cane producers diverting production to ethanol rather than sugar production, this can reduce international supply and, as a result, increase demand for Australian sugar.

Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry is the fifth largest employer of residents in the Whitsunday region, accounting for 8% of the labour force. Manufacturing is mainly heavy fabrication and mining-related maintenance, supporting the industry through all stages of the mining process – from exploration to mine site rehabilitation.

The region boasts 20 training firms that can deliver high growth services like mining safety and risk management for manufacturing companies. Another feature of the region is Paget Industrial Estate, which is home to a range of engineering companies, many of which export services and equipment to countries including China, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and Ghana.