Explorers optimistic despite policy concerns

3 December 2019

Ongoing confidence in the resources sector is translating into an increase in exploration investment across all major commodities but policy concerns persist, a new report from the Queensland Exploration Council (QEC) has found.

The QEC Scorecard was released at the QEC breakfast attended by the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Dr Anthony Lynham this morning.

“Coal exploration increased for only the second time since 2011-12 up by 25 per ent. Copper and gold exploration expenditure lifted 19 percent and petroleum exploration expenditure grew by 10 percent,” QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said.

“The results underpin the growing optimism in the exploration industry with 58 percent of explorers planning to increase or significantly increase their exploration expenditure and 92 percent of drilling companies forecasting similar or increased spending over the next 12 months.

“Once again, the scorecard shows that Queensland is in prime position to benefit from our state’s rich mineral prospectivity.

“That investment has significant potential to grow. Queensland will be at the forefront of the development of the expanding critical minerals industry.

“Recently, I joined Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan on his critical minerals delegation to the United States. This delegation reaffirmed the potential of the partnership between Australia and the US to invest in the projects that will provide the building blocks for everything in our modern societies from mobile phones, to cars and solar panels, as well as use in defence and other strategic industries.

“QRC will also work with the Queensland Government on the implementation of a $13.8 million five-year package to discover and develop critical minerals.”

QEC is the exploration arm of the QRC and its Chair, Kim Wainwright, said a strong building block out of this year’s report was the close relationship that has been developed with the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.

“Explorers’ rapport with the Queensland Department reached an all-time high. For the first time in the Scorecard’s nine-year history, explorers were positive about departmental assistance. This is an important relationship, and we hope it continues to grow.

“Our industry will continue to work constructively with the Government and the Department to improve the exploration permit process. Exploration is the cornerstone of the overall resources industry and if we don’t explore for new resources today we won’t have a resources industry into the future.”

Mr Macfarlane said the Scorecard also sounded a note of caution about access to capital, social licence to operate and policy uncertainty which was sitting at negative 36 points.

“If we are to attract new investment and create new jobs we need a clear and stable policy environment in which it to operate,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“This includes a clear, consistent approval framework and timetable, as well as potential for new exploration and new projects. Despite our rich prospectivity, Queensland cannot take future investment for granted.

“These will be key issues for Queensland in the election year 2020.”

Both Mr Macfarlane and Ms Wainwright thanked outgoing QEC Chair Brad John PSM for his outstanding dedication over the past two years to the QEC and the exploration industry.

Media contact: Anthony Donaghy 0412 450 360