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 of 200,000, 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.

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 10 million tonnes of cargo contributing up to $10 billion to Queensland’s economy each year.

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.

Around 75% of the port’s trade is with Queensland’s Asian neighbours, and 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, having recently completed a $10 million apron expansion. The airport is Australia’s fastest growing, and home to the Northern Australian Aerospace Centre of Excellence.

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

More than 50% of the world’s population live in the tropics and increasing wealth, and population growth, in those areas 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 hosts more than 3,400 international students each year.

International education and training interests in the region are serviced by the Study Townsville regional study cluster supported by TIQ.

Renewable energy

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

The Burdekin and Ingham areas’ combined cane crush of 12 million tonnes equates to 1.6 million tonnes of raw sugar or 26% of Australia’s production. Climate and water infrastructure enables Burdekin to produce a variety of crops and horticulture such as sweetcorn, melons, beans and mangoes.

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.

Townsville 2

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)

MITEZ is the peak regional development organisation for an area encompassing 7 local government areas – Mount Isa, Cloncurry, McKinlay, Richmond, Flinders, Charters Towers and Townsville.

Covering a total land area of 271,732km2, the region is home to more than 216,700 people and is a vital transport corridor connecting the area to the rest of Queensland, Australia and the world via road, rail, air and sea.

View the region’s primary resources, infrastructure and investment in the North Queensland Regional Map (1MB) View the Northern Australia resource export supply chain and map (9MB)