Queensland’s peak resources sector body has welcomed news of more consistency in the release of land for exploration by the Queensland Government. Minister for State Development and Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham released the first annual exploration program, which sets out 826 square kilometres of land to be made available through competitive tender for minerals, coal, and petroleum and gas exploration over the next 12 months.
Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche says the annual exploration plan will provide certainty for exploration investors.
‘I applaud the minister’s innovation in establishing for the first time an exploration plan that hopefully will lead to increased exploration for Queensland’s mineral riches. It is good to see the government listening to the sector, following uncertainty surrounding the timing of land releases,’ said Mr Roche. ‘I also applaud the new process whereby of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines is consulting with stakeholders before releasing land. This is a major change and provides land holders with the information they need, which should reduce anxiety related to explorers coming onto their land and hopefully smooth the way for good working partnerships between the parties. Exploration is the backbone of the resources sector, requiring a clear vision from government, which
this annual plan provides. However, the success of these land releases is reliant on quality geoscience information, which is why it was disappointing to see cuts in funding to the government’s Geological Survey of Queensland in the recent Budget. Queensland has one of the best geological survey organisations, but it will need increased support to ensure Queensland has the latest systems to keep our sector globally competitive. For every $1 invested in pre-competitive geoscience, the government can expect to reap a return of up to $20 from the development of mines that bring jobs and royalties to the state, which pay for hospitals, schools, teachers nurses and police.’
Chair of the Queensland Exploration Council Dr Geoff Dickie said that the news was welcome.
‘This is very welcome news for Queensland’s explorers, in what is a very difficult environment, particularly for raising capital,’ said Dr Dickie. ‘Exploration is the engine room for Queensland’s resources sector and initiatives that help reduce costs and red tape can only benefit all Queenslanders through the development of our natural resources,’ he said. ‘Explorers have also welcomed the recent reduction of up to 50 percent over 2016 and 2017 on the expenditure they have to commit under their exploration permit.’
The seven areas that are subject of the land release range from Cloncurry in the north-west, though the Bowen Basin in central Queensland, to near Surat in the south-west. Minerals exploration will also continue to be available under the relinquishment and access provisions.
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