Australia’s resources industry has welcomed the announcement by the South Australian Government to commence work on sealing the Strzelecki Track – a key transport corridor connecting the state’s far north-east.
The State Government will invest $10 million to seal the first 50-kilometres of the 472-kilometre Strzelecki Track, starting north of Lyndhurst.
31 jobs are expected to be created over the life of the project, which will commence in the third quarter of this year, with expected completion in the last quarter of 2021, weather permitting.
“Sealing the Strzelecki Track has been talked about for decades and will unlock massive economic potential and growth in regional South Australia,” said Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, Stephan Knoll.
“The nature of the unsealed road makes it inaccessible during wet weather and flood events, negatively impacting on the efficient and safe operation of road users, especially freight,” he said.
According to the Minister, in the three-month period from February to April this year, there were four inclement weather events which resulted in the road being closed for 13 days.
“We are prioritising this project because it will… slash freight costs for the resources sector,” he said.
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) South Australia Director, Matthew Doman, said the Cooper Basin is Australia’s most important source of onshore gas and is still the country’s largest onshore oil-producing region, and the Strzelecki is the key access route into the Cooper Basin.
“Improving access to the Cooper and lower transport costs would improve the long-term economics of servicing the basin and support ongoing oil and gas production.”
The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME) also welcomed the commitment, stating that it has consistently advocated for sealing of the track.
“The recent release of South Australia’s 20-Year State Infrastructure Strategy recognised the resource sector’s outstanding mineral, oil and gas resources; and the requirement for infrastructure solutions that provide efficient routes to market,” said SACOME Chief Executive Officer, Rebecca Knol.
The South Australian Government’s commitment comes after a 2017 report by state, federal and local government authorities found sealing the track would deliver a $1.4 billion boost to the SA economy over the next four decades.
SACOME and the APPEA both urged the Federal Government to support the project, which could generate significant economic activity as the recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 virus begins.