Substantial Growth Potential
In order to understand the future growth potential of Darwin this section details current and future projects of significance that will affect the local economy and job opportunities.
In April 2018 the NT Chief Minister announced that ‘the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation had responsibility for delivering 9 facilitated investment projects valued at over $30 billion and 18 projects with Major Project status valued at over $10 billion …equating to 10000 jobs during construction and 3000 permanent operational jobs’.
The list below identifies a number of those current key projects for the Northern Territory and suggests that local expenditure of around $16 billion could take place over the next few years, with considerably more growth and opportunities likely in the near future.
(Disclaimer : this list is not intended to be a complete list of current NT projects, but representative of the spread of projects across various industries. It is also hoped that the accuracy of the information is correct, however this might not always be the case. Project information has been sourced from publicly accessible Private Company and Government websites and APP takes no responsibility for the accuracy of content.)
In Feb 2018 it was announced that ‘The Territory Government is rolling out a record $103 million tourism stimulus package. This includes $56.24 million to be spent on new tourism infrastructure.’
Also in the 2018 Federal Budget announcements were made on
- $100 million for the Arts Trail initiative
- $100 million to be spent on revitalisation of Darwin CBD
- $90 million for revitalisation of the Alice Springs CBD
- $20 million for an Iconic National Art Gallery and Cultural Centre in Alice Springs
A new luxury hotel to be built on the Darwin waterfront by Landbridge Infrastructure Group Australia is scheduled to commence construction later in 2018. Marriott has been announced as the hotel operators and this major project for the Darwin is valued at $250 million. Completion date/opening is targeted as 2021.
A new Water Theme Park to be created in Darwin was allocated $0.5 million in 2017/18 Federal budget for feasibility investigation of this project. The initial phase is now complete and a site allocated. In June 2018 the Territory Government commenced advertising nationally for developers to undertake this major project. A 2019 start date for construction is expected.
Direct flights from China commenced in May 2018 and the NT Government sees this as a ‘game changer’ for Asian tourism. Donghai Airlines now have a non-stop service to major financial centre Shenzhen, in southern China. When the service reaches capacity by 2020 it is expected to bring in around 30000 tourists annually and projected to contribute $32 million each year into the NT economy. (China is a key location for NT exports with $1.83 billion of goods sent in 2017).
Darwin Ship Lift and Marine Industry project (East Arm) has been planned by Pearl Marine Engineering (Paspaley) to service Defence and Australian Border Protection vessels, as well as providing for service and repair of off-shore rigs or other marine equipment associated with the oil and gas industries in northern Australia. Detailed technical site specific works are currently being designed to enable commencement to occur in 2018/19 after Government approval. The value of this project is estimated at over $400 million and recent reports from NT Government confirm that this project is on track to commence on the near term. NTG expect the facility to open up a wide range of industrial opportunities related to both marine works and manufacturing with significant employment being generated by this project.
Conceptual engineering design of the Marine Services Area to be developed by the Land Development Corporation as an integral component of the Ship Lift and Common User Facility, has also been completed. The Marine Services Area will provide industrial sites for large vessel marine repairs as well as a broad range of smaller marine suppliers and repairers. Stage 1 of the land development has a budget of $8 million to be spent in the 2018 financial year.
Darwin Port upgrade will involve longer term expenditure of $200 million by Chinese operator Landbridge to meet the growing needs of exporters and importers. The planned works involve significant infrastructure expansion. Upgrading commenced in 2017 with an initial $35 million expenditure, and further development of the port will be on-going.
The pastoral industry represents a $5 billion part of the NT economy. Gina Rhinehart’s recent agreements with Zhejiang Aozhou Cattle Industry Co Ltd. will see 150000 live beef cattle exported from her northern stations (Ruby Plains and Helen Springs) to a feedlot and processing facility on Jintang Island in north eastern China. A large amount of the export trade will be through the Port of Darwin, and export cattle numbers are predicted to double when the facility on Jintang is fully expanded. Export is planned to commence in 2018/19.
Ord Stage 3 Irrigated Agricultural development has been seen as a major NT business opportunity for many years. In 2016 the NT government sought expressions of interest for future leasing of the 14500 Ha of highly productive farming land, so that it could work through the required approvals with an operator. The NT government is keen to make this project happen in the near term and has allocated resources to this task.
Darwin Battery Storage Gigafactory Project by Energy Renaissance (backed by engineering group UGL) and US battery storage company 24M, is scheduled to be operating in 2019. The unique $100 million plant ‘Renaissance One’ will manufacture customised hot and humid climate optimised lithium ion batteries for the commercial and electronic vehicle market in South East Asia. Darwin has been selected because of its good port access to Asia, and for the significant amount of Cobalt, Graphite and Lithium available in the Territory. The plant will initially supply utility and industrial storage batteries for Australian and Asian markets.
Project Sea Dragon, the biggest prawn farm in the Southern Hemisphere is planned to commence in 2018. Seafarms intend to spend $1.5 billion on establishing the farm. The NT Government is already committing substantial resources – $98 million allocated for 2018/19 – towards developing the road infrastructure for this mammoth project, in anticipation of the significant multiplier effects for employment and transport.
Equatorial Launch Australia is proposing a ‘space-base’ for launching satellites on Gove Peninsula. The NT government are very keen on this proposal for Australia’s first commercial spaceport and are looking to access funding from the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) to support this project. (The NT Government is currently assessing 20 projects that could fit the funding criteria and recent relaxation of funding rules could result in more than $1 billion being provided to Top End projects by the end 2018). The first stage of the ELA project to be called the Arnham Space Centre, is intended to be under construction in 2018 with the first space flight planned for 2019. Government funding of $236 million is being sought together with private equity provided by ELA.
Humpty Doo Barramundi Farm has been granted a $7 million loan from the NAIF and it will also borrow another $22 million to expand its current operation by 30%. The $30 million total expansion will commence this year and when complete will provide an additional 50 permanent jobs at the farm.
Mount Isa to Tennant Creek Railway project has been proposed to open up export opportunities from the NT and north-west Queensland. The NT Government considers that there are significant economic benefits to the Port of Darwin and the Tennant Creek region from this rail connection. While there is no funding commitment to this project at this stage, there is a strong chance that it could proceed and if this is the case it will require considerable expenditure and resources.
$20 million Truck Central in the Transport Industry Precinct at Wishart is under construction and due to finish by 2019.
Territory Generation will spend $70 million on a 22.5 megawatt power generation plant at Gove (Gove Generation Solution). Plant to be operational by 2021.
NPARIH by Territory Housing involves spending $2 billion on new and upgraded remote housing. This work commenced in 2009 and is ongoing.
Our Community. Our future. Our Homes. project by DIPL to commence in 2018 for new and upgraded remote housing will involve expenditure of $1.1 billion over the next decade.
The NT government will spend $63 million this financial year on infrastructure for new urban subdivisions, and $61 million of new and upgraded urban public housing. Agreement has been reached with 7 apartment project developers to acquire a percentage of the units in each project for social housing. A $42 million project at 9 Daly St; Darwin for 77 units will benefit from the government commitment and is expected to commence later in 2018 with 300 jobs created.
$0.5 million was allocated by the NT government for investigation of seniors lifestyle accommodation in inner Darwin, and KPMG is currently undertaking a market analysis of the commercial requirements for projects to encourage retirement in the NT. Major seniors accommodation that fits the government’s specifications will be given funding assistance and real estate agents are already seeing a number of specialist providers looking for development sites in and around Darwin. Planning of a seniors village complex in Alice Springs is well advanced and is expected to commence soon.
NT’s strategic land developer Land Development Corporation is currently involved in industrial, commercial and residential projects that include Darwin Business Park, Darwin’s Transport Industry Precinct and the Marine Industry Park.
Berrimah Farm redevelopment (Northcrest Estate) by Halikos involves expenditure of $300 million for infrastructure associated with the 2000 dwelling estate. The first stage of land release occurred in 2017, and the North Crest Display Village is planned to open in 2018/19. The project is likely to span over a 13 year period.
The 2018 Federal Budget delivered significant expenditure on road infrastructure projects nationwide and NT has a large allocation of this funding. $180 million will be spent on upgrading of the Central Arnhem Road and $100 million is allocated to improve the Buntine Highway.
The NT will also benefit from the $1.5 billion Roads of Strategic Importance – Northern Australia package, and a share of the $550 million to be spent on the iconic Outback Way across Queensland, the Territory and Western Australia. The NT Government is releasing $733.5 million from the package for Northern Australian Roads and Beef Road construction. This includes $38 million to be spent on the Barneson Boulevard (now re-named Garramilla Boulevard) and Tiger Brennan Drive project (Total cost of the Barneson Boulevard project has increased to be $45 million with the Council contribution).
Regional roads across NT have also been allocated an additional $280 million in the 2018 Federal Budget to be spent over the next decade and $27 million works are underway on the Victoria Highway at Katherine .
The 2018 NT budget allocates over $20 million to be spent on upgrading remote airstrips and communications.
PUBLIC BUILDINGS and RECREATION
The 116 bed Palmerston Regional Hospital for the Department of Health is under construction and expected to open in 2018/19. This is a $170 million project.
Works will occur during 2018/19 on fire upgrades to the Alice Springs Hospital to for around $20 million.
The 2018 NT Budget allocated $75 million for Health Infrastructure projects, and $130 million to be spent on Territory schools.
10000 sqm of new office space for the NT Department of Health is to be provided in the Darwin CBD. The building conversion development application at 34 Cavenagh Street, Darwin by Sandran P/L is currently on exhibition and works are expected to commence in 2018, and be complete in 2021. Cost is around $50 million and includes a new carpark for 320 cars and other public streetscape works. Construction will create 250 jobs, and additional ongoing jobs will be created to operate the childcare centre and carpark that form part of this project.
The Office of Register of Indigenous Corporations will be moving from Canberra to Darwin, and will require office space in the CBD during 2018/19.
City Deals Partnership involving the Darwin Council has been allocated $66 million for Darwin CBD works in 2018/19. This funding includes the 3 level underground carpark project that has recently been awarded to Tomatzos builders. The work will commence in June 2018 and produce 60 direct jobs and 165 jobs during construction. An innovative canopy structure to be installed along Cavenagh Street is also part of this program and will commence construction in June 2018
Second CT Scanner and PET scanner commenced in 2017 by Sitzler and is a project of around $7 million cost.
A new Netball Stadium at Mararra started in 2017 and is being constructed by Sunbuild for $20 million.
Warren Park Rugby League Stadium at Mararra by Halikos started in March 2018, and will cost $25 million and create 120 local jobs. A new $16 million Tennis Centre is also being constructed at Marrara.
The new Palmerston Police Station has been awarded to Sitzler, and construction will commence in June 2018 and create 100 jobs. The project cost is $30 million.
$70 million has been allocated by the NT and Federal Governments to respond to the protection problems associated with children in detention. “Fit for purpose’ youth justice training centres are to be built in Darwin and Alice Springs with this funding. These projects will be under construction in 2019.
A $27 million new Darwin secondary school complex commenced construction in 2017 and is planned to be open by 2019.
In 2018 budget $13.1 million was allocated to motorsport works and in July tenders have been called for design and construction of a new $6.0 million Motorsport House at the Hidden Valley track. Other improvement works are to be undertaken at this venue.
In 2018/19 the Capital Grants Program will fund projects in Tennant Creek – $1.45 mill for landscaping Barkley Street, $5.0 mill for a rehabilitation centre, and $6.3 mill for an early childhood learning centre (tender awarded in July).
Defence expects to spend $8 billion in the Territory over the next decade. A further $12 billion expenditure has been identified for the following decade.
Part of this expenditure is the Larrakeyah Barracks and Coonawarra redevelopment project by Laing O’Rourke. These works include infrastructure development at the barracks and naval base and upgrading of facilities and services. This project commenced in June 2018 and involves expenditure of $500 million mostly with local suppliers and contractors.
Lend Lease has been underway since 2017 on Infrastructure works at RAAF’s Tindal Air Base. These works at the Base involve expenditure of around $500 million.
Growler Facilities work at Delamere Range began in 2017 and is continuing at a $146 million total cost.
Air Facilities upgrades at RAAF bases in Darwin and Tindal commenced in 2017 and is on-going. This work involves expenditure of $409 million.
United States of America is also forecast to spend $1 billion in the Territory by 2025/6.
Inpex’s Ichthys gas plant has resulted in expenditure of over $40 billion since the project commenced in 2012. While close to be being finished there is still construction work to be completed during 2018/19.
US major Conoco Phillips is targeting mid 2018 as the go-ahead date for the $21 billion offshore gas development of either the Caldita-Barossa fields in the Timor Sea or the Poseidon fields in the Browse Basin, to backfill their Darwin LNG plant. The project includes an off-shore production rig and pipeline. Front end engineering and design work commenced in 2017 on the favoured Barossa project to address the 2018 start date. This project extends the life of the existing DNLG plant in Darwin by 20 plus years with considerable economic and employment benefits to the NT.
In April 2018 the NT Government committed to expenditure of $250k (40% of the cost) towards a feasibility study to assess the potential of a second LNG train at the existing Conoco Phillips DLNG plant at Wickham Point. The NT Government realises the significant economic benefits to the NT if this project were to proceed and is keen to encourage this to happen. The study is to be complete by the end of 2018.
Prelude project by Shell FLNG (Darwin based maintenance base) involves expenditure of around $14 billion. Currently the floating gas facility is being commissioned 500km north of Broome. The Northern Territory plays a significant role in the supply chain for Prelude through the Shell supply base in Darwin, and with Darwin based contractors managing warehousing, maintenance and logistics. Shell are currently engaging more local companies and workers for the Prelude project and expect this to continue into 2019.
Beetaloo basin projects for unconventional hydrocarbons are being investigated by Origin Energy and Pangaea, and are planned to commence soon.
Northern Gas Pipeline between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa by Jemena is currently under construction with gas expected to flow in early 2019. The pipeline will cost around $800 million.
Tanami Gas pipeline project by Australian Gas Infrastructure commenced in 2018 and involves expenditure of $181 million and employment for 400 people. This 440km pipeline connects Newmont’s Granites and Dead Bullock Soak mines to the Amadeus Gas pipeline.
There are currently 6 mining ventures in Central Australia that appear to be on track to commence in 2018/19 involving immediate expenditure of $2.2 billion. Included in this group are:
- TNG’s $1.7 billion Mount Peake Vanadium- Titanium- Iron mine project 230 km NE of Alice Springs is planned to commence in 2018 with initial expenditure of $850 million on the mine component. The mine will require 500 construction jobs and 200 operations personnel. In June 2018 the Australian Government approved the environment components of this project, clearing the way for full mining lease approval to be issued by the NT Government. TNG has already secured product contracts, appointed McMahon-Clough for EPC services and appointed Como Engineering to oversee construction. The other part of this project is the construction of a refinery to be built at Middle Arm, Darwin Harbour. The refinery will cost a further $850 million and employ 1200 workers during construction, with 400 on-going operational jobs. TNG’s engineers have made improvements to the TIVAN refinery processes (separating vanadium titanium and iron into high grade metals) to advance this part of the planned works. Access to the Adelaide-Darwin rail line and the LNG pipeline are part of the initial mine works.
- Verdant Minerals Ltd Amaroo Phosphate project 220 km SE of Tennant Creek is projected to commence early in 2019. Stage 1 costs $368 million to setup the operation and produce 1 million tonnes of phosphate per annum. Stage 2 will take place 5 years later with a further expenditure of $200 million and lift the production to 2 million tonnes per annum. Initially the mine requires 300 construction workers and 100 operations personnel. This phosphate resource is so vast that it is expected that once mining at Amaroo commences large scale operators will establish facilities in the NT for phosphoric acid and fertiliser production. A 105 km connection to the gas pipeline and Adelaide Darwin rail will be part of the initial works.
- Nolans Bore Rare Earths Project north of Alice Springs by Arufura Resources is an $970 million rare earths mine, beneficiation plant, extraction plant and related infrastructure north of Alice Springs. Nolans will be a low cost supplier of 5-10 per cent of the worlds Neodymium-praseodymium a key raw material for permanent magnets. It is scheduled to commence in 2018 and will require 400 construction workers, and 250 operations personnel.
- Mt Todd Gold Mine By Vista Gold is planned to commence in 2019 and will involve expenditure of $1.0 billion. Located 250 km south of Darwin (50 km from Katherine) this former mine now has approvals to re-open. Feasibility studies have been completed and funding is being sought. The mine will involve 450 construction workers for 2 years, and 350 employees in on-going operations.
- Chandler Facility Project 120km south of Alice Springs is a $676 million salt mine to be developed by Tellus Holdings. Investigations and approvals are well advanced and it appears to be on track to to commence construction in 2019 as planned.
- Jervois, a Copper Silver Lead and zinc project 270km NE of Alice Springs by KGL Resources is scheduled to commence in 2019 with expenditure of $216 million . This project requires 360 construction workers and 300 permanent workers to operate the mine.
Newcrest Mining commenced an alliance with Encounter Resources in 2018 to investigate gold mining opportunities in the Tanami, NT – 600km northwest of Alice Springs. in July 2018 they announced exploration funding of $12 million over 7 years at Prodigy Gold’s Euro project, and $12 million exploration funding with ABM Resources for investigation of leases close to Newmont’s Callie Mine (one of the worlds lowest cost gold mines). Work will commence in 2018.
Newmont Mining and Nova Minerals will jointly develop the Officer Hill gold project in the Tanami Region and exploration work is progressing during 2018/19.
Mt Bundy Gold by Primary Gold is due re-open operations on the Toms Gully Rustlers Roost and Quest mines during 2019.
Hayes Creek Project by PNX Metals is a low cost high margin zinc, gold and silver discovery at Pine Creek 170km south of Darwin. The company has also recently confirmed several high grade gold deposits has raised capital to accelerate its NT exploration. PNX plans to operate silver-gold-zinc mines at Mt Bonnie and Ironblow with processing at Fountain Head.
Core Exploration completed a pre-feasibility assessment of the Grants deposit at its Finniss Lithium project just outside of Darwin and expects to be mining in 2019 to take advantage of the rapidly increasing world demand for lithium and spodumene. This high grade deposit is only 88 km away from the Darwin Port and is part of a much larger field of identified pegmatite. Core has undertaken successful exploration of its nearby BP33 deposit in this area, and quantities found will double the initial mine life. Core also has discovered high grade pegmatite in the Anningie/Barrow Creek area near Alice Springs, and conveniently close to the rail line. Collectively these deposits provide an opportunity for long term lithium mining and processing in the NT. In July 2018 Core signed a $47.3 million pre-payment agreement with Shandong RuiFu Lithium (one of China’s largest lithium hydroxide and carbonate producers) to take 150000 tonne per year from the Finniss project. (Core had a previous $20 million pre-payment from chinese Yahau in December 2017 for Direct Shipping Ore from its Grants project). Collectively these agreements are likely to be the catalyst for the funding required to get the Finniss lithium project into production.
(Kingston Resources Limited also hold significant NT lithium deposits at Bynoe 1 hour from Darwin , Wingate and Northern Arunta – Barrow Creek and Spotted Wonder, 200 km north of Alice Springs. These tenements are currently – July 2018 – under contract for sale to Lithium Plus P/L.)
Eastern Leases project by South 32 is a further extension of the existing Manganese mine on Groote Eylandt. It involves expenditure of $160 million by Groote Eylandt Mining Company (GEMCO).
Other resource projects that are well advanced but do not yet have a commencement date:
Crux, and oil and gas project by Shell (TBA)
Tassie Schoal, By MEO, a methanol/LNG project (TBA)
Evans Schoal, by Eni, a methanol/LNG project (TBA)
Sunrise Gas project, a natural gas/LNG project by Woodside (TBA)
Caldita LNG project by Conoco Phillips and Santos (TBA)
DLNG Expansion of existing LNG operation by Conoco Phillips (see note above)
Bonaparte LNG and LNG project by Engie and Santos (TBA)
Wonarah Phosphate mine by Avenira Limited (TBA)
Karinga Lakes, a potash mine by Verdant Minerals (TBA)
McArthur basin, unconventional hydrocarbons by Amour Energy (TBA).
Pedirka and Amadeus basin, unconventional hydrocarbons, by Central Petroleum and Santos (TBA).
Georgina Basin, unconventional hydrocarbons by Central Petroleum and Total (TBA)
McArthur basin, unconventional hydrocarbons by Santos (TBA)
Beetaloo basin unconventional hydrocarbons by Inpex (TBA)
Tennant Creek Mineral Field, a gold project by Emmerson Resources (TBA)
Roper Valley an iron ore project by NT Iron Ore. Mine infrastructure was commenced under the Western Desert Resources ownership. (TBA)
In April 2018 the NT Government lifted its moratorium on fracking and initial testing of potential production areas are due to commence later this year. Full investigation and approvals are likely to delay actual production from fracking until 2020/21. The expected revenue to the NT Government from fracking is expected to be considerable, and is predicted to result in a very buoyant future economy for the Territory. Jemena who are building the Northern gas Pipeline between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa have already indicated that they will proceed as early as next year with the $4 billion expansion of their gas pipeline if fracking is proceeds as planned.
The new master-plan for the Darwin Airport produced in November 2017 shows the current level of 2 million passengers per annum going to 6 million by 2037. This growth requires continuous change and expansion to the existing aeronautical infrastructure over this period, as well as doubling the current level of employment at the airport.
Alongside the aeronautical expansion is the planned development of non-aeronautical commercial businesses on airport land, and this will include recreational, parking and environmental infrastructure to further diversify the airport operator’s revenue streams. Expenditure at the airport will be incremental but considerable in order to achieve the goals outlined in the master-plan.
NT Airports have invited tenders for the $17 million first stage of a $40 million retail development on airport and defence land, with Dan Murphys as the anchor tenant. This work will commence in 2018.