Korean companies plan to turn Queensland coalmining town into renewable energy powerhouse

Three major Korean companies have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Queensland government, with a view to building one of Australia’s largest renewable energy hubs in north Queensland.

The proponents of the plan – Korea Zinc, SK Gas and Hanwha Impact – are ultimately seeking to export 1m tonnes of green ammonia to Korea to meet forecast demand as the north Asian nation seeks to meet its climate commitments.

Korea Zinc already has a significant presence in north Queensland – the company’s Sun Metals refinery in Townsville incorporates a large solar farm. Its subsidiary company, Ark Energy, is now developing plans to build a 3GW renewables hub at Collinsville which would produce the energy to create the ammonia, a common fertiliser.

The announcement is potentially significant for Collinsville, a coalmining town, where stalled plans to build a new coal-fired power station had been pitched as a saviour of local jobs.

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the Korean-backed green energy export corridor could create up to 700 jobs.

The plans remain years away from final investment decisions or the start of basic construction; first exports are not envisaged until 2032.

Daniel Kim, the chief executive of Ark Energy, told reporters on Monday the project had signed up 12 landholders in the Collinsville area – representing a combined area of about 190,000ha, or the size of K’gari-Fraser Island – for the renewables hub. He acknowledged there remained “chal