Palaszczuk bails out explorers

A $2.8 million rescue package for Queensland’s explorers will have rents waived and fees frozen as the state vies to ease the pressure caused by COVID-19 and sustain the exploration sector.
Palaszczuk bails out explorers Palaszczuk bails out explorers Palaszczuk bails out explorers Palaszczuk bails out explorers Palaszczuk bails out explorers

Old friends: Ian Macfarlane, Annastacia Palaszczuk and Dr Anthony Lynham back in 2015

Australia's Mining Monthly is making some of its most important coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic freely available to readers. For more coverage, please see our COVID-19 hub. To subscribe to AMM, click here.

 

Under the rescue package there is to be a 12-month waiver of rent on exploration land that is due between April and September and a freeze on fees and charges until July 2021.

The package will also try to stimulate activity by releasing almost 7000sq.km of land for gas and mineral exploration and bringing forward $2.8 million in grant funds for exploration in the North West minerals province.

Land covering 108sq.km near Moranbah will go to tender for coal exploration on May 7, while 6700sq.km of land in central and southwest Queensland will be opened for tender for gas a week later.

Explorers can also access collaborative exploration initiative grants of up to $2000,000 for new and innovative exploration activities.

The move has been praised by Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane, who said the government's commitment to critical minerals in the province would play a vital role in the state's economic recovery from COVID-19.

"We need a diverse energy mix and Queensland has the potential or as the premier said an estimated half a trillion dollars in new economy minerals in the North West which are needed for renewable energy infrastructure and technologies," Macfarlane said.

 "Solar panels, electric cars and batteries for large scale energy storage are manufactured from mining the minerals found in the North West [such as] graphite, vanadium, copper, cobalt and zinc."

Queensland's mines minister Dr Anthony Lynham said a strong pipeline of exploration was critical to the state's future mineral and gas projects, future jobs and future business opportunities for Queensland companies.

"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," he said.

Lynham said the resources sector had weathered the COVID-19 storm better than most, which was good news for jobs.

"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 [and] many junior companies are having difficulty raising essential capital to meet exploration and holding costs," he said.

Lynham said the tender and grant stimulus would give 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 start up again.