DAM CLOSE: CEO says Urannah is 'closer than ever before'
THE CEO behind the Urannah Water Scheme believes that the project to construct the Urannah Dam is the closest it has ever been, with positive signs it will be built.
A new office was opened in Bowen this week to host staff related to the Urannah Water Scheme project, with politicians and key stakeholders among those invited.
Urannah Water Scheme CEO, Kerry Huston, said that the next steps of the potentially 'game-changing' project are well underway, with private sector interest underpinning the possibility that the dam will be built.
He said that the potential $2.5b scheme was 'the closest this dam has ever been'.
In April this year, the federal government pledged an election commitment of $10m to commence early works on the project including environmental impact statements, gaining required approvals and doing designs.
Mr Huston said the $10m wouldn't be enough to complete everything needed and the project would need to source 'wider equity injection' from private parties, something he wasn't concerned about.
"I'll put it this way, we sleep comfortably at night about finding the extra funding," he said.
"We have a significant amount of interest from private companies, especially for a project of this size.
Mr Huston said the Australian Renewable Energy Agency was one business interested in working with the project, with potentially $5m in contribution funding for investigations into the hydro-electric portion of the scheme.
He said that due to commercially sensitive agreements he couldn't disclose any other interested parties.
Mr Huston said the plan for the next 18 months was to continue 'checking the boxes' and get the project 'shovel ready.'
A business case for the project is due in 12 months, with an environmental impact statement due 6 months after.
"We're out there doing the detailed portion now, so that's the terrestrial and ecological studies in the field," he said.
"Once we tick all the boxes it's time to move to financial close.
"For the dam we expect some form of government contribution.
"For the agricultural precinct, we expect it to attract significant interest in the private sector.
"The project has a 1.7 cost-benefit ratio, it is economically feasible."