Strong commodity prices are expected to help fuel a continued climb in exploration spending in Queensland, after a 77 per cent rise in the past three years, a peak group says.
Queensland Exploration Council chair Kim Wainwright said exploration expenditure in the state had been robust over most of the past 10 years, apart from a drop in 2015-17, but had been on a steep upwards trajectory since 2018.
The QEC’s Exploration Initiatives for the Future forum (February 19) heard that ABS figures showed more than $640 million was spent in Queensland on mineral and gas exploration in 2019-20.
“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,” Ms Wainwright said.
Primed for ‘next big discovery’
Ms 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 QEC 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.
Ms 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.
The forum featured Acting Director General of the Department of Resources Mike Kaiser as keynote speaker
It also 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 about 150km west of Cairns.
Red River Resources undertook low-impact magnetic surveys using drones on land 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 about 100km west of Mount Isa.
Vecco Group put its grant towards re-analysing drill core samples to identify new economy minerals north of Julia Creek.
- Content from the event will be published on the Queensland Resources and Exploration Gateway www.qurex.com.au.