Qld digging for the new economy

QUEENSLAND is seeking to position itself for the global energy transition into renewable energy by subsidising 13 explorers digging and drilling for new economy minerals.

Speaking in Townsville yesterday, resources minister Scott Stewart said local company Sunshine Gold received part of the $2.5 million Collaborative Exploration Initiative funding to search for rare earth minerals and gold near the historic mining town of Ravenswood.

"The resources sector is central to Queensland's economy and will continue to be the backbone of Queensland's economic recovery as we emerge from the Omicron wave," he said.

Stewart said the Queensland government had committed to investing in the growing new economy minerals sector, which was powering the global energy transition and creating the next wave of resources jobs for Queenslanders.

"These grants of $2.5 million provide the financial safety net for junior explorers like Sunshine Gold to be innovative and uncover more deposits, which will lead to more projects and more jobs," he said.

"We want Queensland to mine, process, and manufacture those new economy minerals to create jobs and produce royalties that will fund Queensland schools, hospitals and roads."

The Collaborative Exploration Initiative grants are part of the government's $23 million New Economy Minerals Initiative, which aims to support a sustainable pipeline of new economy minerals projects into the future.

The latest round of grants will support projects across rural and regional Queensland including projects near Chillagoe, Georgetown, Mount Isa, Townsville, and Proserpine.

Sunshine Gold managing director Damian Keys said the grants would allow his company to accelerate its projects, one of which involved geophysical exploration, field mapping and geochemical soil sampling near Ravenswood, 130km southwest of Townsville.

"It allows us to fast-track exploration that would have taken us longer," he said.

"We will be able to refine drill locations and it progresses us to the next stage of drilling.

"The grants validate our work to date and our science, and it takes off the funding pressure that junior explorers always contend with."

Stewart said jobs in minerals and exploration sectors continued to boom on the back of increased investment in the sector.

"The resources industry directly supports about 80,000 jobs across the state, particularly in the regions, which account for about two-thirds of all mining jobs," he said.

"Jobs in minerals mining and quarrying have almost drawn level with jobs in coal mining, which shows the potential minerals have for creating jobs and economic benefits for our state."

Data collected from the projects will be available via the Queensland government's geological Open Data Portal, to encourage further exploration and mining investment in Queensland.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies CEO Warren Pearce said the CEI and other co-funded programs were crucial to finding bigger and more sustainable deposits of minerals needed to provide the minerals needed for the rapidly growing renewable energy industry.

"The effectiveness of programs like this is clear to those within the industry and has been supported recently by the KPMG Collaborative Exploration Initiative Impact Study released in July last year," he said.

"The economic impact study conducted by KPMG on the Collaborative Exploration Initiative was unsurprisingly positive, but it was encouraging to see the report supported comments and feedback that AMEC has been giving to government about these programs.

"Australian mineral exploration expenditure continues to grow, demonstrating the strength of Australia's mineral exploration industry, the record capital raising combined with the record exploration spend will lead to more discoveries benefiting these communities and the state."