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Another major hurdle has been cleared for two major projects in Queensland funded through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

The Queensland Government has confirmed it won’t use its legislative right of veto to stop loans totalling $93.5 million to help fund new student accommodation at James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville and expand Metro Mining’s Bauxite Hills mine near Weipa.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said it’s another example of the NAIF delivering for the people of northern Queensland.

“The two projects will create close to 300 local jobs and generate long term economic benefits for the local communities,” Minister Pitt said.

“The seven storey residential block at James Cook University will enhance Townsville’s growing reputation as an education hub while Metro can now begin its Stage 2 expansion that involves the construction of a floating terminal on Cape York.   These are projects that are thanks to the support through the NAIF which represents another significant Government investment in the north.”

Assistant Minister for Northern Australia Michelle Landry said the Queensland Government decision helps clear the way for the two projects to deliver significant local returns.

“It’s estimated Metro’s expansion will generate over half a billion dollars in public benefit over the life of the mine to 2037, with 40% of its workforce being Indigenous Australians,” Assistant Minister Landry said.

“NAIF is designed to help build the infrastructure and economy of Northern Australia and improve the lives of those who live there, and both of these projects will do that.”

Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said the news is good timing for the community.

“We are all aware of the impact the coronavirus is having on the local economy and the JCU project funded by the NAIF will help provide some confidence going forward,” Mr Thompson said.

“The 348 jobs created during construction and 221 jobs in its operational phase will be very welcome as North Queensland emerges from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the second NAIF loan to benefit JCU and I look forward to other organisations and companies accessing this important facility to benefit our region in the near future.”

Parties will now work to achieve financial close which will allow them to draw down NAIF’s loan.