North Queensland, which encompasses the area from Townsville to Mt Isa and from Ayr to Ingham, is recognised as a key contributor to economic growth for northern Australia and a hub for industry and investment.
It has a proud heritage founded on strong agriculture and resources sectors, Australia’s largest military base, a major port catering to a broad range industries and markets, and world-class educational institutions.
With a population over 230,000, Townsville is Australia’s largest tropical city and the main government and business centre for northern and central Queensland. Hosting the Sun Metals zinc refinery, Glencore copper and lead processing, and the Pacific National rail freight terminal, Townsville is the primary service centre for processing base metals from the North West Minerals Province.1
Economy and infrastructure
The economic strengths of North Queensland have been built upon its diverse natural resources. The diverse natural environment includes rich agricultural soils, abundant water, extensive grazing areas and mineral resources.
The Port of Townsville is northern Australia’s transport link to the world and has been the economic cornerstone of North Queensland since its establishment in 1864. It is a high value commodity port, handling around 7.68 million tonnes of cargo in 2018-19.2
Eight operational berths facilitate the import and export of 30 different commodity types including sugar, copper, lead, zinc, petroleum, motor vehicles, cattle and containerised trade.3
The Port of Townsville is the number one exporter in Australia of copper, zinc, lead and sugar and with its close locality to Asian markets, it is ideally placed to service a growing economy. More than 20 shipping lines operate out of the Townsville Port; offering more than 40 services and covering 136 ports around the world.4
With direct services to Singapore cargo can be shipped to anywhere in the world, Townsville Airport is a key point for connecting central and outback regions with domestic locations and the Pacific, and is home to the Northern Australian Aerospace Centre of Excellence.5
Townsville’s location and infrastructure and government initiatives such as the State Development Area (SDA) are attracting new industries.
Industry growth areas
Mining and minerals processing
The North West Minerals Province boasts a large portion of the world’s lead and zinc resources and significant deposits of silver, copper and gold. The region encompasses the northern section of the Bowen and Galilee Basins, which have some of the world’s richest coal and natural gas resources.
The province is the second largest minerals mining area in the world, containing over 28% of the world’s known zinc reserves as well as major deposits of silver, lead, copper, iron ore and phosphate.
Townsville is the primary service centre for processing base metals from the North West Minerals Province. Sun Metals zinc refinery, Glencore’s copper and lead processing and the Stuart Intermodal facility all contribute to regional growth.
Tropical science and expertise
With almost half the world’s population predicted to live in the tropics by 20506 and increasing wealth, and this growth is driving demand for tropical expertise and services and creating opportunities for highly skilled professionals across a range of industries.
Drawing on the expertise in North Queensland, opportunities exist to develop applications in tropical health, environmental management, primary industries, industrial processes and chemicals, tropical infrastructure and urban design.
The internationally renowned tropical research facilities in North Queensland include:
- James Cook University
- Australian Institute of Marine Science
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
International education and training
The region is home to world-renowned tropical research facilities and almost 2,000 international student enrolments in 2019.7
International education and training interests in the region are serviced by the Study Townsville regional study cluster supported by TIQ.
North Queensland is rich in renewable energy resources including bagasse, wind and solar power. Investment opportunities exist in the development of bio-based fuels and industrial products, including research into algal-based products being conducted at James Cook University.
Food and agribusiness
Climate and water infrastructure enables Burdekin to produce a variety of crops and horticulture such as sweetcorn, melons, beans and mangoes.8
Cattle production provides feeder and slaughter cattle for the live export markets of Asia and the beef processing facility exports beef products to various global markets.
Produced by Townsville Enterprise Ltd
Trade and investment services
North Queensland is serviced by TIQ’s Townsville Office.
Northern Queensland, Australia
Mount Isa to Townsville Economic Development Zone (MITEZ)
The MITEZ region is home to approximately 230,000 local residents. Strategically located, the region acts as a vital integrated transport corridor; connecting the region and its extensive mineral and agricultural production to the rest of Queensland, Australia and internationally via road, rail, air and sea links. Over the past 10 years, the region’s resource-rich economy has diversified into new sectors while maintaining its established industry strengths.9
1Queensland Government Statistician’s Office, 2016, ‘Queensland Regional Profiles – SA4 (Townsville)’, https://statistics.qgso.qld.gov.au/qld-regional-profiles, accessed July 2020.
2Port of Townsville, 2019, ‘Port of Townsville About Us’, https://www.townsville-port.com.au/about/about-potl/, accessed July 2020.
3Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads, June 2019, ‘Trade Statistics for Queensland Ports’, https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/business-industry/Transport-sectors/Ports/Port-governance/Trade-statistics-for-Queensland-ports, accessed July 2020.
4Port of Townsville, 2019, ‘Port of Townsville About Us’, https://www.townsville-port.com.au/about/about-potl/, accessed July 2020.
5Townsville Airport, March 2019, ‘NAIF Loan Offer for Townsville Airport Redevelopment Welcomed’, https://www.townsvilleairport.com.au/latest-news/naif-loan-offer-for-townsville-airport-redevelopment-welcomed, accessed July 2020.
6Australian Government Australian Trade Commission, May 2015, ‘Northern Australia – Emerging Opportunities in an Advanced Economy (pg. 12)’, https://www.austrade.gov.au/ArticleDocuments/2814/Northern-Australia-emerging-opportunities-in-an-advanced-economy.pdf.aspx, accessed July 2020.
7Australian Government Department of Education Skills and Employment, Feb 2020, ‘International students studying in regional areas’, https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/Research-Snapshots/Documents/Location%20of%20International%20Students%20in%202019.pdf (accessed through https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/research-snapshots/pages/default.aspx), accessed July 2020.
8Sherrington, M. (for the North Queensland Register), Mar 2018, The Burdekin is overflowing with potential, https://www.northqueenslandregister.com.au/story/5291946/burdekin-rich-with-potential/, accessed July 2020.
9MITEZ Economic Development, 2018, ‘Mount Isa to Townsville Economic Development Zone – Regional Overview’, http://www.mitez.com.au/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/MITEZ_Regional-Overview-2018.pdf, accessed July 2020.