Coal at the Port of Brisbane. Photo: AAP/John Gass
Coal at the Port of Brisbane. Photo: AAP/John Gass

Qld coal exploration booming

A SURGE in investment in mining exploration in Queensland has boosted the resources industry, with confidence at a record high according to a new report.

The Queensland Exploration Council will today release its annual scorecard on the sector, noting coal exploration has increased for the first time since 2011-2012, up 27 per cent.

Expenditure on minerals exploration was up 35 per cent, while petroleum exploration expenditure was up by five per cent.

QEC chair Brad John said the survey also showed the highest level of positive sentiment in the industry since it was first conducted in 2011.

"For the first time in the scorecard's history, explorers were positive about their access to investment capital and sentiment towards policy uncertainty also greatly improved," Mr John said.

"Our industry has worked hard with the (state government) to improve the exploration permit process and we are now reaping the benefits."

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the report capped off a strong year for the sector, which employs more than 316,000 people.

"To ensure ongoing prosperity for all Queenslanders, and to invest in the infrastructure and services our cities and regions need, we must plan for the future now through new discoveries and new projects," Mr Macfarlane said.

"We have good grounds to be confident, with The Fraser Institute naming Queensland as the highest ranked jurisdiction in Australia for geological potential, and the third best in the world."

Queensland Government Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham will announce today almost $2 million in collaborative grants would be injected into exploration of minerals in Queensland's north west, with the funds set to bolster 15 new exploration projects.

The government would also open tenders to explore 672 square kilometres of new land in the Bowen and Eromanga Basins.

"As it gets harder and harder for explorers to find 'the next big thing', Queensland is investing in exploration," Dr Lynham said.

"This is a downpayment on future jobs and business opportunities from Queensland's $63 billion-dollar resources sector."

Meanwhile businesses which support the resources industry were similarly seeing work increasingly roll in.

Brisbane-based testing business ALS, which has operations across 70 countries, said at its recent half-year results that the amount of mining-related samples had "increased globally as both established mining clients and junior explorers continued to lift their activity and spending levels".

The flows of such samples was up 14 per cent, compared to the same time a year earlier, ALS said.

But Mr Macfarlane said Queensland could not "take our success for granted", and said identifying new prospects and new land releases would remain a priority.

"Our resources sector continues to innovate, using advanced technology to deliver the best returns to Queensland, the highest standards of environmental sustainability, and to continually increase safety ... but the most fundamental part of our future resources strength is investment in new prospects," he said.