Almost 20,000 square kilometres of Queensland will be released for exploration for gas to power local manufacturing and generate LNG royalties, and to identify new-age minerals needed for the next technology and renewables boom.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham released the Annual Exploration Program for 2017-18 on Wednesday, including thousands of square kilometres for gas.
“Knowing what’s under the ground through exploration gives Queensland a front row seat in delivering the next generation of projects, and the energy needs for the future,” Dr Lynham said.
“With almost 18,000 km2 petroleum and gas exploration, this is good news for the local manufacturing and electricity consumers as more gas supply means, downward pressure on energy prices.”
The annual exploration program is a Queensland government initiative that sets out the program of competitive tenders for the coming year.
It helps resource companies plan their exploration programs and gives landholders, traditional owners and local governments notice of potential resource activity in their area.
The 2017-18 program includes:
More than 1100 km2 for minerals in the north-west mineral province
Almost 18,000 km2 of land for petroleum and gas exploration in the Surat, Bowen, Eromanga and Adavale Basins
More than 540 km2 for coal in the Bowen Basin and Galilee Basins in the central west.
Dr Lynham said two sets of competitive tenders would be called.
One is for petroleum and gas and minerals in the current quarter and the other is for coal in the April-June 2018 quarter.
“Many of the petroleum and gas blocks are greenfield sites, and I encourage new and local players, as well as junior explorers to enter the Queensland market,” he said.
“The solution to gas shortages is more gas and Queensland continues to do the heavy lifting on supply and policy initiatives, like our pilot of land for the domestic market only.”
The north-west minerals blocks are between Mount Isa and Doomadgee and have potential for copper/gold and lead/zinc, as well as the rare earth elements that are used in advanced technologies from hybrid vehicle batteries to super-conducting magnets.
“Unlocking these areas now puts our State on the trajectory of long-term economic growth,” Dr Lynham said.
“These new minerals include rare earths and lithium and we need these minerals to develop renewable energy technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines and batteries.”
Unlocking these areas now puts our State on the trajectory of long-term economic growthDr Anthony Lynham
Preferred tenderers must met environmental, native title, and other approvals, as well as land access requirements before commencing on-ground exploration.