Exploration surges in Queensland


Exploration surges in Queensland

By Esmarie Iannucci for Mining Weekly - 5th December 2018

Queensland is experiencing a resurgence in exploration investment across all commodities, a new report from the Queensland Exploration Council (QEC) has shown.

The annual QEC Exploration Scorecard found coal exploration has increased for the first time since 2011/12, going up by 27%, while mineral exploration expenditure is up by 35%, and petroleum exploration expenditure is up by 5%.

QEC chairperson Brad John said the positive sentiment showed Queensland’s resources sector was on a strong footing for the future.

“It’s particularly pleasing to see that this year’s survey showed the highest level of positive sentiment in the industry since the Scorecard began in 2011,” John said.

“For the first time in the Scorecard’s history, explorers were positive about their access to investment capital and sentiment towards policy uncertainty also greatly improved.

“Our industry has worked hard with the Queensland government’s Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy to improve the exploration permit process and we are now reaping the benefits.”

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) CEO Ian Macfarlane noted that the release of the annual QEC Scorecard capped off a strong year for resources.

“Our resources sector is at the heart of the Queensland economy. It powers our state, it employs more than 316 000 people and it delivers almost A$5-billion in royalty taxes that benefit every Queenslander,” Macfarlane said.

“To ensure ongoing prosperity for all Queenslanders, and to invest in the infrastructure and services our cities and regions need, we must plan for the future now through new discoveries and new projects.”

Meanwhile, the Queensland government on Wednesday announced nearly A$2-million in funding to encourage explorers to uncover minerals in Queensland’s remote, resource-rich North West. 

Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said on Wednesday that 15 new exploration projects, by 12 companies, would be bolstered by the latest round of collaborative exploration grants.

As well, the government is opening tenders to explore 672 km2 of new land in the Bowen and Eromanga basins.

Lynham said the state’s investment and commitment to exploration would ensure Queensland continued strong economic and jobs trajectory.

“As it gets harder and harder for explorers to find ‘the next big thing’, Queensland is investing in exploration. This is a downpayment on future jobs and business opportunities from Queensland’s A$63-billion-dollar resources sector.”

Government and industry jointly fund the Collaborative Exploration Initiative, which backs private investment in under-explored parts of north-west Queensland by co-funding particularly innovative projects.

Over the past 11 years, this programme and its forebears have proven successful in identifying new mineral deposits.

The proponents of the latest funded projects will receive up to half of the direct activity costs of their projects to a maximum of A$200 000, and an additional incentive of 75% or up to A$300 000, if they can finalise their projects by August 2019.

Tenders for the new coal exploration areas open December 6, and bidders will need to include a cash offer in their bid.

Preferred tenderers must meet environmental, native title, and other approval requirements before the five-year exploration rights are granted. Lynham said land access and compensation agreements would also need to be sorted with landholders before exploration could kick off.