Common user infrastructure at the Middle Arm Precinct

Infrastructure Australia | Infrastructure Priority List |

Common user infrastructure at the Middle Arm Precinct

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Common user infrastructure at the Middle Arm Precinct

A graphic of the Australian continent with NT state shaded and small dot representing Darwin.
Darwin, Northern Territory
Developing regions and northern Australia
Efficient Markets
NT Government
Near term (0-5 years)
21 August 2023
Common user infrastructure at the Middle Arm Precinct

There is insufficient marine infrastructure and serviced land available adjacent to the existing Darwin port to enable several industries and export opportunities that could add value to the Northern Territory’s economy, such as green hydrogen, high-value minerals processing and refinement, and downstream gas processing. Addressing this gap could increase the value of the mining and manufacturing sectors to the Northern Territory and Australia as a whole. Middle Arm has been identified as the most suitable location to realise this opportunity. 

The 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit identified that infrastructure could help to catalyse growth across northern Australia and unlock development across a range of industries. The Middle Arm Precinct will also support the opportunity to transition Australia’s exports to high-tech, low-cost, low-emission energy sources, as recommended by the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan.

Proportionate and timely investment in supporting infrastructure could uplift the value of exports from northern Australia to neighbouring and growing Asian regions.

This proposal was first added to the Infrastructure Priority List as a Stage 1 listing in February 2021.

Potential investment options

The NT Government has investigated a range of site options and a range of common user infrastructure options to address the opportunity. Of the locations, only Middle Arm is assessed as suitable because of its access (land and sea), size and proximity to existing social and economic infrastructure. Common user infrastructure includes transport, utilities, port infrastructure and accommodation.

Strategic Fit

The long list of common user infrastructure options was informed by various NT Government departments and prospective proponents. Options were assessed against alignment with Australian and NT Government policies. This included the emission intensity of potential industry proponents and risks to meeting the NT’s net zero targets engendered by any option. 

Societal Impact

Four shortlisted packages of infrastructure projects were assessed by multi criteria analysis and rapid cost-benefit analysis. This has resulted in the identification of two preferred program packages to take forward to the Stage 3 business case. The preferred program packages aim to activate a sustainable development precinct that increases NT output, employment and value-added industries. They will also contribute to a carbon neutral economy and involve capital costs and construction risk commensurate with the level of government involvement required to unlock private investment.


While the NT Government has and continues to undertake significant planning to ensure the precinct’s success, ensuring government investment is aligned with potential business investment is key to mitigating the risk that demand does not materialise. Precinct design, delivery planning, including staging of individual projects, procurement, commercial structure and governance are other key areas that the Stage 3 business case should focus on. Regulatory initiatives have been noted as critical and will be part of the Stage 3 assessment, such as precinct approval processes. The scale and complexity of the proposal will require careful management of environmental risks to surrounding coastal, marine and benthic ecosystems, and extensive stakeholder engagement.

Next Steps

In October 2022 the Australian Government announced $1.5 billion in equity investment to the development of Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct.

Proponent to develop and submit a business case (Stage 3 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).  

Refer to Infrastructure Glossary for terms and definitions.