November 01, 2018

SMEC delivers ‘nation-building’ dam feasibility study

SMEC has completed the 12-month Hells Gates Feasibility Study for the Australian Government.

SMEC has completed the 12-month Hells Gates Feasibility Study for the Australian Government. The AUD$2.2M study demonstrates the potential to develop Northern Australia on a nation-building scale with an AUD$5.35 billion irrigated agricultural and power scheme, including a 2100GL dam that will be the largest storage in Queensland, 50,000 ha of irrigated agriculture increasing Northern Australia production by 30%, a 1200MW pumped hydro plant and other major road and power system upgrades. In addition to creating an estimated 12,000 jobs during construction, the project is expected to deliver horticultural and broad-acre cropping that would contribute approximately AUD$800 million to the gross regional product in Northern Australia. The study is part of a long-term vision to develop Northern Australia by securing new sources of water and energy to expand the region’s irrigated agriculture industry. The recommended next step of the project is the development of a detailed business case, including a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), cultural heritage investigation and extensive drilling program that will enable a developed design to be delivered.

The Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Northern Australian have both commended SMEC’s work as has the State of Queensland, which has endorsed the Feasibility Study for public release.

“Water security, especially for agriculture, will be a major issue into the future,” said Mayor of Charters Towers Regional Council Liz Schmidt. “The Hells Gates Dam proposal………..is exactly the type of project we need to help secure our economic future.”

The Hells Gate feasibility study was led by a multi-disciplinary team of SMEC experts drawn from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Auckland (New Zealand), and four states in Australia. The diverse project required water resources, dams, irrigation infrastructure, pump stations, agronomy and soil testing, economics and market demand evaluation, logistics, environmental inspections, cultural heritage negotiations, and design of roads, bridges and power systems as well as hydropower and solar concepting. The overall scheme is an outstanding demonstration of SMEC’s deep expertise and broad-ranging ability to envisage and develop the core concepts underpinning major infrastructure and develop complex engineering solutions to these multi-disciplinary challenges.

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