Black rock losing its shine
BOOMING coal prices have failed to lure explorers back to Queensland, according to the State Government.
The government's mining journal said record and near record coal prices had been reached over most of past the year, but coal exploration expenditure in Queensland remained "fairly subdued'' at only $99 million for the 12 months to March.
"Current exploration levels are certainly a far cry from the $653.8 million spent in 2011, the last time coal prices were at present levels,'' it said.
The spending was up on the $82.1 million spent for the same period in 2017, "suggesting that many explorers are still struggling to recover from the effects of the poor prices of late 2015 and early 2016.
"While global coal demand fell marginally for the first time in decades in 2015, largely on the back of major structural changes in China, 2016 saw a significant proportion of this demand gradually come back on line.
"Some analysts predict the international thermal coal market to grow by almost 50 million tonnes, or 5 per cent, in 2018, based on new power station construction, particularly in South and East Asia.
"Imports to India in particular are anticipated to rise again after falling in the last two years as domestic supply there struggles to meet expanding demand.''
Investment in the Queensland mining since the beginning of 2016 appears to have stabilised at around $2 billion a quarter.
Total investment in the year to March 2018 was $8.7 billion, up from $7.96 billion expended in the 12 months ended March 2017.
Copper exploration expenditure in Queensland jumped 65 per cent in the year to March at $53.9 million compared with the previous year's $32.7 million, but this is still only a third of levels seen in 2011 and 2012.
Gold exploration expenditure in Queensland was also up strongly for the March year at $61.8 million, an increase of 20 per cent.
This was still well down on the $75.2 million achieved in the 12-month period ended September 2013.