Hells Gates Dam Project

In 2018, the $2.2M Hells Gates Dam Feasibility Study, project managed by Townsville Enterprise with funding from the Federal Government’s National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, confirmed the viability of the $5.35 billion irrigated agricultural and power project on the upper Burdekin River.

The findings of the study defined that the Hells Gates Dam Irrigation Project has the potential to redefine Northern Queensland’s agriculture sector and underpin long term export market growth and investment.

The Federal Government has since committed $54M towards Phase 1 of the Project which includes the $30M for the first stage of Big Rocks Weir at Charters Towers. The final Business Case for Big Rocks Weir was delivered to the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority on 21 August 2020 and has had both State and Federal governments commit $60M for the construction of Big Rocks Weir.

The remaining $24M is for the detailed Business Case of the Hells Gates Dam, including geotechnical and cultural heritage assessments, construction proposals, enhanced economic modelling works, environmental impact report and engineering investigations. The Business Case will assess and provide further investigative works into the findings of the feasibility study completed in 2018.

 As Project Managers of the Business Case, Townsville Enterprise has brought together a consortium of leading technical specialists to determine if a viable business case exists to construct a major new dam and irrigation scheme at Hells Gates in the Upper Burdekin catchment.

Hells Gates Dam Site


Visitor access to the Hells Gates Dam site is strictly prohibited. Approval is required through SMEC Head Contractor or Townsville Enterprise Limited.

A minimum of 48 hours’ notice is required. To request approval for site access please email tel@tel.com.au

Visit the Hells Gates Dam Project Website here for further information

Hells Gates Dam and Big Rocks Weir: Milestone Timeline

Hells Gates Dam Map

Hells Gates Dam Environs Mapping courtesy of North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority.

Click Here to VIEW Map

Hells Gates Dam and Big Rocks Weir: Charters Towers City Hall Office

The Hells Gates Dam and Big Rocks Weir projects office located in Charters Towers City Hall has reopened. This enables for the public to access information and to direct queries regarding the Business Case for both Hells Gates Dam and Big Rocks Weir. 

Office opening times: Tuesday and Thursday’s 9am – 11am

Hells Gates Dam Project Update: November 2020

Townsville Enterprise Limited is the Project Manager for the delivery of the Hells Gates Dam Business Case. This is a two- and half-year project, starting in October 2019 and scheduled for completion in April 2022. The Hells Gates Dam Business Case has been funded by the Commonwealth Government and managed by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy under a Grant Deed.

The project is currently on schedule with the delivery of Milestone 5. There are another 5 Milestones to be delivered between now and April 2022. Townsville Enterprise Limited has engaged SMEC to complete the engineering services, environment surveys and the writing of the business case. Townsville Enterprise Limited has also engaged KPMG to deliver the economic analysis of the project, including agronomy and cropping options.

 A camp site has been established at Hells Gates which has enabled Cultural Heritage inspections and monitoring, Geotech drilling and EIS surveyors to access the site and complete investigative works in developing statistics and information for the Business Case. We take this opportunity to thank the traditional owners of the land of the site, the Gugu Badhun and Gudjala peoples for their assistance and support. We also thank the adjacent landowners for their ongoing commitment to the project.

The traditional owners are currently monitoring the disturbance works on the site. The geotechnical drilling rigs have completed their works on the three of the proposed weir sites and are now concentrating on the proposed dam site with samples being taken 80m below the Burdekin Riverbed.

This is a very exciting time for the project, with environment surveys, ecology surveys, aquatic surveys, flora and fauna surveys being conducted. Piece this together with the geotechnical drilling, and we begin to get a complete picture of the potential for a major piece of infrastructure. This is the first time that such a study has been implemented into the Hells Gates region.

Hells Gates Dam Site Visit: October 2020

Final Big Rocks Weir Business Case

Townsville Enterprise Limited, with the assistance from two major consultants GHD and KPMG, have delivered the final Big Rocks Weir Business Case to the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority on 21 August 2020.

Funding of $60M has been committed from both State and Federal governments for the construction of Big Rocks Weir. Strong advocates and nominated proponent, Charters Towers Regional Council, will commence pre-construction activities including the final design and costings. This project will provide a new source of water security and reliability for the township of Charters Towers and will produce positive economic benefits through increased agriculture, for the Charters Towers region.

Big Rocks Weir Business Case Update: May 2020

The Big Rocks Weir Business Case has made substantial progress since Townsville Enterprise Limited signed the Grant Deed with the State Government in late October 2019, the Business Case has been funded by the Federal Government through the North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority.

This has been achieved with the assistance of our two major consultants, GHD and KPMG, and the community and stakeholders of the Charters Towers region. This newsletter is an update on the progress of the project since the public meeting was held on 12 February 2020 in Charters Towers. The Australian government has already committed $30 million towards construction of the weir should the final business case show it is viable.


Feasibility Study: Executive Summary

Hells Gates Dam Feasibility Study Overview

"We greatly appreciate the time with our Federal leaders in #Townsville, including Acting Prime Minister… https://t.co/EzbLgd1Ouu"

02:30 PM Jan 13th @TSVEnterprise