North Australia Digest – 26/9/12

Here is a digest of today’s major stories that impact North Australia:
The Australian
Queensland mining magnate Clive Palmer has lodged legal proceedings after rival miner GVK was awarded the rights to build a railway line between the Galilee Basin and Abbot Point. Mr Palmer claims he has not be provided with adequate information as to why his company, Waratah Coal, was not awarded the contract.
Live sheep export to the Middle East has been resumed for the first time since disease claims last week. Halting live exports to the region 10 days ago led directly to a 25 per cent drop in sheep prices, according to some farmers.
The Australian Financial Review
The biggest shut down of nuclear power in history will spur record demand for liquefied natural gas in coming decades. In a move that will increase demand from Australian producers, Japan, once the world’s third biggest nuclear generator will close all of its reactors within 30 years after last year’s meltdown at Fukushima.
Despite escalating costs in the sector, Chevron is sticking to its plan for a rapid expansion of the Gorgon liquefied natural gas project, Australia’s biggest ever resources development. Chevron has confirmed it will start engineering work late this year on a fourth production unit, an expansion which will cost at least an extra $10 billion.
Mining industry job losses have spread to the gold sector, with Newport mining laying off 50 local support staff in an attempt to rein in costs.
The Courier Mail
State and federal government’s are considering a plan for North Queensland to become its own economic zone. Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton will unite in an attempt to gain a larger share of the $60 billion in wealth generated annually in the region. Local Government Association of Queensland president Paul Bell said the four regions would also work as one to cut red tape, “It will collectively exert a far greater amount of political power and influence on Brisbane and Canberra,” Mr Bell said. “They will be able to deal with half of Queensland as one group and in one hit.”
The Kingaroy gas project, which contaminated groundwater in the region, was given environmental authority to operate on “inadequate conditions”, according to an independent review of the process.
The West Australian
Only “modest” improvements to rail lines to Esperance Port would be needed to cater for the export of an extra 15 million tonnes of ore a year, according to Iron ore mining hopefuls in the Yilgarn region.