Major plan to save resources projects and jobs

MORE than 100 sq km of land near Moranbah will go to tender for coal exploration as part of a multimillion-dollar package to support resources projects and jobs.

The relief measures include a 12-month rent waiver on exploration land due between April 1 and September 1, a fee and charges freeze until July 1, 2021 and a fast-tracked $2.8 million in grant funds for innovative exploration in the North West Minerals Province.

Mines Minister Anthony Lynham flagged the measures last month after the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies urged immediate financial relief for the state's struggling mineral exploration sector.

Dr Lynham said while the resources sector had fared better than most during the Covid-19 crisis, many enterprises had been forced to put exploration activities on hold.

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

"Our package will ensure exploration continues to identify the next wave of resources projects and jobs."

AMEC chief executive Warren Pearce welcomed the move, which has brought Queensland in line with similar relief measures already announced in South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales.



Mines Minister Anthony Lynham.
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham.

"Due to the pandemic, mineral explorers are having difficulty in accessing sites to complete work programs," Mr Pearce said.

"There is little opportunity to raise funds in the coming months to support future operations, and almost all companies have significant fixed costs that they are required to meet.

"In taking these steps, the Queensland Government is acknowledging both the issues and importance of this critical sector of the minerals industry."

Burdekin MP Dale Last said he was proud to have led the campaign calling for action.

"Exploration companies weren't looking for special treatment," Mr Last said.

"They just wanted a basic level of support to survive the current pandemic and emerge ready to get back to work when this is over."

A total of 108sq km near Moranbah will go to tender for coal exploration today and 6700sq km of land will go to tender for gas in central and southwest Queensland next week.

Explorers can now apply for grants of up to $200,000 for new exploration activities.