A recent exploration forum in Brisbane revealed Queensland’s resources industry has grown exponentially over the past decade, and by 77% in the past 3 years.
Queensland Exploration Council (QEC) Chair, Kim Wainwright, said exploration expenditure in Queensland has been robust over most of the past 10 years, apart from a drop in 2015 – 2017, but had been on a steep upwards trajectory since 2018.
“For the past decade, the QEC’s annual Scorecard publication has shown a highly positive explorer sentiment towards resource prospectivity, which is very good news for our industry and a barometer for how well the resources sector is travelling,” she said.Wainwright told a gathering of more than 130 explorers, producers, investors, researchers and regulators that Queensland had enormous resources prospects and a skilled workforce focused on “that next big discovery.”
“We are fortunate Queensland’s North West Minerals Province is one of the world’s richest mineral producing areas containing copper, lead and zinc as well as major silver and phosphate deposits and strong rare earth potential,” she said.
“These minerals are needed to make everyday items such as smartphones and renewable energy products such as wind turbines, electric cars, solar panels and batteries.
“What makes these commodities special is not every mineral jurisdiction has them, and they can be difficult to extract and process economically.”
The forum also heard about the key role Queensland’s critical minerals could play in the development of renewable technologies globally, and the potential for hydrogen to emerge as an alternative fuel and what that would mean for the sector in the future including replacement of diesel equipment and vehicles.
Wainwright said it was great to see industry, researchers and government working together to unlock the state’s potential, particularly in secondary prospecting and minerals reprocessing.
She said coal was once again Queensland’s leading resource target in terms of exploration expenditure over the past year.
“In the final quarter of 2020, Queensland mineral exploration expenditure was AUS$101 million, and coal accounted for more than half of that,” she added.
“This is the highest coal exploration expenditure we have seen in 7 years and provides an insight into just how valuable the coal industry is to the Queensland economy.”
Wainwright said minerals such as gold and copper made up the other half of minerals exploration expenditure in the September 2020 quarter, with a historically strong price continuing for gold in particular.
The Exploration Initiatives for the Future forum heard that Australia Bureau of Statistics figures showed more than AUS$640 million was spent in Queensland on mineral and gas exploration in 2019 – 2020.
“Given exploration spend typically correlates positively with strong commodity prices, the QEC expects the next ABS data release on 1 March to confirm a further increase in overall exploration expenditure in Queensland in 2020-21, so it looks like this upward trend will continue,” she concluded.
The exploration forum, which featured Acting Director General of the Department of Resources Mike Kaiser as keynote speaker, showcased promising new data and progress reports from four grant recipients under the State Government’s Collaborative Exploration Initiative (CEI).
Dover Castle Metals used the grant to explore for silver, lead and zinc and potentially one of the highest grades of indium in Australia using diamond drilling techniques on land approximately 150 km west of Cairns.
Red River Resources undertook low-impact magnetic surveys using drones on land approximately 100km south west of Cairns to look for silver, lead, zinc and indium deposits, while Aeon Metals explored for deep iron oxide, copper and gold in an area approximately 100 km west of Mount Isa.
Vecco Group put its grant towards re-analysing drill core samples to identify new economy minerals north of Julia Creek.
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