Australia’s other resource state, Queensland, has unveiled a multi-million dollar package aimed at supporting the survival and revival of explorers to maintain its pipeline of resource projects and jobs.

The package includes:

  • a 12-month waiver of rent on exploration land due between April 1 and September 1;
  • a freeze on fees and charges until July 1 2021;
  • the release of almost 7,000sqkm of land for gas and mineral exploration later this month; and
  • bringing forward $2.8m in grant funds for innovative exploration in the North West Minerals Province.

“A strong pipeline of exploration is critical to our future mineral and gas projects, to future jobs and to future business opportunities for Queensland companies,” Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said.

“We have to ensure the survival of our explorers, many of them small to medium businesses, until the current situation improves and the economy recovers.”

Dr Lynham added that exploration was the lifeblood of the resources sector and that it had weathered the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic better than most other sectors.

“But many enterprises have had to put exploration activities on hold as a non-essential activity to reduce risks to their workforce and local communities,” he noted.

“As well, many junior companies are having difficulty raising essential capital to meet exploration and holding costs.”

Queensland will tender 108sqkm of land near Moranbah on May 7 for coal exploration and 6,700sqkm of land in central and southwest Queensland on May 14 for gas.

Additionally, explorers can apply for grants of up to $200,000 from the $2.8m Collaborative Exploration Initiative for new and innovative exploration activities.

Dr Lynham said the tender and grant stimulus would provide exploration companies the opportunity to develop bids at their desks while they waited for the economy to recover, capital to become available and field work to resume.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) naturally welcomed the government’s support.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the package recognised the resources sector was critical to Queensland’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

“As an essential industry, we presented a package of measures to support the work on new discoveries of coal, metals including critical minerals and gas,” he said.

“This package is the first down payment from the Palaszczuk government on the resources sector’s pivotal role in Queensland’s COVID-19 recovery.”

Macfarlane said the package was “a good start”, but that the QRC would continue to work with the state government to ensure the resources sector had the policy and financial support it needed to contribute to Queensland’s recovery.

Queensland’s move follows Western Australia’s recent decision to reduce the Mines Safety Levy by 20 per cent from July 1 and its offering junior explorers exemptions from exploration expenditure requirements in late March.