Contracts for the exploration of minerals and coal in Queensland’s North West Minerals Province and the Bowen and Surat basins have been awarded.
Four companies – Denham Coal, Queensland Coal Investments, Enex Togara and Wandoan Holdings will soon be able to commence exploratory work over 369km2 total of land in the Bowen and Surat basins.
Junior explorer Red Metal Limited will soon be able to seek out new zinc, lead, copper and silver deposits across 400km2 of land located 250km north of Mount Isa.
Minister for Mines Dr Anthony Lynham, said, “Unlocking land for resource exploration – whether it is to uncover coal, gas or minerals – is vital to continuing resource development, whether it’s for mining jobs or royalties to fund our hospitals and schools.
“Exploration is essential for Queensland to keep up with the world’s thirst for tech minerals and our own manufacturing sector’s ongoing need for high-quality base metals.
“New coal deposits offer energy security and a long term economic future for all Queenslanders.”
The new tenders came on the back of Queensland’s record 223 million tonnes of coal exports last year, and a major new geological report which shows Queensland is sitting on almost double the amount of coal than was last known.
The report reveals Queensland has 63 billion tonnes of raw coal in-situ – an increase of around 29 billion tonnes on the previous estimate.
Dr Lynham said this included more than 14 billion tonnes of coking coal – essential to the production of steel for the building and manufacturing sectors.
All explorers have to negotiate land access agreements and fulfil all existing environmental and Native Title requirements before they are granted exploration permits.
These tenders complete the Queensland Government’s 2017-18 Annual Exploration Program released in October 2017. The current Queensland Exploration Program (QEP) was released in June last year. The QEP earmarks more than 44,000km2 of land for exploration, to unlock the next round of resource projects, and the jobs and business opportunities that come with them.
The new land release and exploration injection follows a year of good news for the North West Minerals Province, including the completion of the $800 million Northern Gas Pipeline from Tennant Creek in the Territory to the Isa, the opening of Dugald River zinc mine and the re-opening of the Lady Loretta zinc mine.
As well, the State Government made available another $2 million in Collaborative Exploration Initiative grants to kick-start 15 exploration projects in the North-West.