Contractors are at work on the Kidston hydroelectric power site, with preparations including upgrading the airstrip to support regular flights from Townsville and boosting camp accommodation to cater for hundreds of workers.
Genex Power initiated the early works program for the Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project, based at the former Kidston gold mine, after announcing last month that its board had formally resolved to proceed with financing and construction.
It came as the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) Board confirmed an investment decision to provide a concessional loan of up to $610 million for the project.
“We’ve got an early works package underway that includes upgrading the airstrip, and upgrading some of the communications, and substantially increasing the old mine camp, because we need to accommodate some 500 workers,” Genex Power executive director Simon Kidston said.
“So there’s a big job actually to upgrade that mine camp to accommodate literally hundreds and hundreds of people in the very near future.”
Exacto and NKE have been contracted for refurbishment design and building approvals for the Oaks Rush Construction Camp upgrade, Marchnet is commencing site access works for microwave tower sites and Avmin is resealing the airstrip.
The early works also include Powerlink beginning detailed design and procurement for the new 275kv line between Kidston and Mt Fox.
Mr Kidston said the airstrip upgrade was almost complete despite the battering the area had received from wet weather on the tail of Cyclone Imogen.
“It’s a bit of a hive of activity at the moment, because there’s lots of people that are coming in and doing assessments and planning,” he said.
“It’s gone from being a fairly quiet place to being quite busy, but it’s going to be very, very busy a month or two from now.”
The company has indicated it is moving rapidly towards financial close on the project, anticipated in February.
“What we’re expecting to do very shortly is announce contractual close, which is when we’re committing the funds for the entire project, close to $800 million of capital,” Mr Kidston said.
“That will be another big step-up in activity from that point, which is the main project being underway.
“This is the preparation, we are doing the early works now so that we can hit the ground running when we achieve contractual and financial close.”