Historic rail milestone for Queensland Metals

An investment of more than $24 million in a fleet of trains is heralding a new era for the transportation of metal products for Glencore’s copper and zinc operations in North Queensland.

It’s the first time the business has owned its own rolling stock which includes the purchase of 188 rail wagons, as well as leasing seven locomotives.

It includes 108 bulk wagons (GOAF), 80 intermodal wagons (GQCY), six GT22 (PRL) locomotives and one GT38 (PRA) locomotive.

Two new locomotives hauling 42 bulk wagons, passing through Toonpan, west of Townsville on route to Mount Isa.

Ore from Queensland Metals’ mines and third parties is processed at our concentrating and smelting operations in Mount Isa to produce copper anode, lead bullion and zinc concentrates. The new rolling stock will transport the products to Townsville for further refinement, and export to domestic and international markets.

Queensland Metals Supply Manager, Huw Werrett, says the decision to secure our own rolling stock will allow more control around the movement of our mineral and metal products by rail.

"Continuing to transport product by rail also has a range of benefits for the business and community," Huw says.

One of the newly acquired Queensland Metals 180 rail wagons.
Mount Isa Mines Acting Filter Plant Supervisor, Sory Karambe, welcomes the first of the new train fleet to Mount Isa, driven by Dean Campbell from QUBE.

“We are committed to moving our product by rail rather than road which promotes safety and environmental sustainability.”

It’s also the most efficient and cost effective option over the long distance from Mount Isa to Townsville,” Huw says.

Australian logistics company QUBE will operate the trains on behalf of Glencore, with rolling stock maintenance carried out by Progress Rail (locomotives) and Wulguru Rail Maintenance (wagons). The move also supports retaining approximately 30 jobs, which had been required under the previous contract to cart the product.

Progress and Prosper was the name of the first train to roll through Mount Isa for the official opening of the Duchess to Mount Isa Railway line on 6 April 1929.
A steam train transporting mixed goods on the Townsville to Mount Isa line in 1960.

The Mount Isa Line is over 1,000 kilometres of track which extends from Stuart (near Townsville) to Mount Isa and includes the Phosphate Hill branch.

Product from Mount Isa Mines has been transported along the rail line since 1929, after it took three years to construct the final section of the line between Cloncurry and Mount Isa.

Before this, camels carried ore 135 kilometres to the Cloncurry rail head, for transport to Townsville.

Queensland Metals also transports cement, coking coal, grinding media and electrolyte along the line each year.