The federally funded Hells Gates feasibility study commenced in May 2017, led by the Snowy Mountains Engineering Company (SMEC), and managed by Townsville Enterprise.
The Feasibility Study is assessing the viability of constructing a dam at Hells Gates to deliver the following potential benefits:
• Staged development of an initial 50,000 hectares of irrigated horticulture and broad-scale agriculture of both perennial and annual crops
• Augmentation of the Burdekin Falls Dam in support of industry (Galilee Basin etc.)
• Up to 1200 megawatt pumped hydroelectric scheme and 15 megawatt run-of-river hydro
• Long-term water security for the City of Townsville (Post 2035)
• Long-term water security for Charters Towers
The study is nearing completion and is expected to be released in May 2018.
The final phase of the study currently underway is the financial analysis being conducted by AEC. This will provide a preliminary finding on whether the project is capable of achieving a return on investment for government or private investors.
While the initial studies, including engineering and environmental reviews, point to the project’s technical viability, it would be a multi-billion dollar investment and the economics of that decision are still yet to be determined.
Any decision to move forward or otherwise with the Hells Gates project will be a negotiated process with government and will depend on the findings of the final report which will be released in May.