Explorers’ state of origin challenge

The NSW Minerals Council says the Queensland Government has issued a minerals exploration challenge to NSW just in time for this year’s first State of Origin match.

The Queensland Government today  allocated $30 million dollars in new exploration funding in its State Budget to assist the Geological Survey of Queensland to search for the new mineral deposits across the State over the next three years and secure the future of the industry.

QRC Chief Executive Michael Roche said it was significant that the state had placed the importance of exploration ‘squarely on the record’.

Queensland Exploration Council chairman Geoff Dickie said the allocation of $30 million over three years to support Geological Survey of Queensland initiatives was evidence of the government’s intent to get behind the state’s exploration sector.

"Accurate and accessible geoscientific information is a major pre-cursor to exploration investment," Dickie said.

"Queensland is in full-on competition for the exploration dollar – both domestically and globally.

"The high minerals and energy prospectivity of the state does not mean that explorers must beat a path to our door. But at the back of every explorer’s mind is the dream of finding another Mount Isa."

NSW Minerals Council Chief Stephen Galilee said the NSW government needed to follow in Queensland’s foot steps and provide a step up for explorers.

“Queensland has shown the way by backing minerals exploration and investment. The NSW Government needs to match this pro-growth message or risk losing investment and jobs to our northern neighbour and interstate rival,” Galilee said today.

“Just as the Maroons have unfortunately enjoyed seven years of success in State of Origin Rugby League clashes, the Queensland Government is proactively working to secure the next wave of mining investment for that State.

“Instead of slugging the industry with $75 million in new taxes, fees and charges like it did last year; the NSW Government must support mining in NSW and back the jobs of our mining workers.

“NSW is the original mining state and mining still delivers a quarter of all our exports by value. We must not lose mining investment and jobs to Queensland or anywhere else.”

Explorers and juniors have been hit hardest by the mining downturn, and with changes to exploration deductions and thin capitalisation rules announced in last month’s budget, industry leaders warn it will further exacerbate mining investment issues.

Western Areas finance director David Southam argued that policy and regulation changes which hinders the flow of overseas investment and exploration spending which also provides flow on benefits to mining service companies, was not good for the sector.

"Exploration companies are the lifeblood of the mining industry, and if you look at the statistics it's been steadily declining over the last few years," he said.

"So anything that hinders (exploration) is not good. It's the nursery of the industry and the nursery is getting hit. I'm sure there'll be a lot of argy-bargy during consultation."

A recent Grant Thornton report published in November found juniors and explorers are facing a number of constraints including the availability and instability of equity capital, market volatility, and government red tape and policy with the introduction of the carbon tax and MRRT.

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