An abandoned north Queensland gold mine could soon be transformed into a renewable energy hub big enough to power half the state.

State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham announced Genex Power’s $580 million energy hub earmarked for Kidston, 280km northwest of Townsville, would be granted special status as a prescribed project.

It meant the project’s approvals process would be fast-tracked and construction could begin as early as the end of the year.

The project would use infrastructure left behind after the 2001 closure of the Kidston gold mine.

Dr Lynham said the project, which would create more than 500 jobs, proposed a 150-megawatt solar power generation farm and a 330-megawatt pumped storage hydro-electric scheme using the mine pits and their stored water.

It would also include a 185km transmission line to carry power to the coast and the main Powerlink line between Townsville and Cairns.

Dr Lynham said the hub would be able to produce 24-hour power servicing up to half of the entire state.

“(It’s) a world-first by using a disused mine for hydro-electric power generation,” he said.

“During the day water will be pumped up and during the night hydro-electricity will be produced to power the peak power demand for towns across the whole of north Queensland and also into central Queensland.”

Dr Lynham said the project would help the government reach its target of having 50 per cent of Queensland’s power needs met by renewable energy by 2030.

“It is a private project, but we are doing everything we can to get it up and running,” he said.