It has been only three months since a report by the Ministerial Advisory Committee for Exploration (MACE), highlighted the work it was doing to help grow the resources sector as a pillar of the Queensland economy.
Then, they talked about a 30-year vision and action plan to grow a robust resources sector that will continue to grow and deliver significant economic benefits to Queensland’s communities.
One of those measures to stimulate investment was by making land available for exploration.
Now with the discovery of rare earths in the North West Queensland Minerals Province near Mount Isa, it seems plans to become Australia’s leading state for resource exploration investment are coming together, as a competitive tender is released for the exploration of resource rich land which encompasses the abandoned Mary Kathleen uranium mine.
Rare earth elements found in this area of Queensland are commonly found in conjunction with copper, gold and uranium mineralisation.
The deposit mined at Mary Kathleen contains both uranium and rare earth elements, however only the uranium was extracted when the mine was last operational in 1982, resulting in the concentration of rare earth elements in the tailings storage facility as a waste product.
A recent survey confirmed the presence of mineralised material in the historic stockpiles, reject pile areas and exposed in the eastern wall of the open pit. The tailings from Mary Kathleen are reported to contain approximately 7 million tonnes of Rare Earth Elements (REE) at 3 per cent. This deposit is best described as a REE ore body containing uranium and is the largest resource of REE known in Queensland.
Rare Earth Elements are a group of elements that exhibit special electronic, magnetic, catalytic and optical properties; other elements cannot readily substitute for their role and use.
REEs are critical for the shift from a carbon based economy to the new 21st century electron economy and are used increasingly in high-technology and environmental applications.
With the future range of uses likely to increase, matched with uncertainty around future supplies, Australia – one of the very few countries with large supplies of the minerals- is in a fortunate position.
Located 60 km east of Mount Isa and 70 km west of Cloncurry in Queensland, the area is comprised of eight sub-blocks with an approximate size of 25.3 km², and includes the Mary Kathleen mine site consisting of one pit, six waste rock dumps, six stockpiles, a 30.7 hectare (ha) historic processing area, and a 110.6 ha tailings storage facility and evaporation pond area.
Tenderers will need to demonstrate how they will address legacy environmental issues and observe native title and heritage requirements, whilst being assessed on the willingness to engage with the landholder and the Kalkadoon Native Title Corporation, and with the broader Indigenous community.
The successful tenderer will be granted an exploration permit for minerals with the intent to progress to a production lease.
For more information about exploration opportunities click here.