Tasmania has thrown a lifeline to mining explorers that are facing capital constraints as a result of the pandemic.
Tasmania’s Minister for Resources, Guy Barnett said the explorer support package was intended to assist companies that are currently exploring in the state to maintain their project pipeline.
The state’s mining and mineral processing sector supports about 5600 jobs, with those that are in regional communities having been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Barnett said that the package could shore up the more than $30 million in royalty and fee payments received from the sector each year.
Under the package, rental payments for exploration licences are suspended for the next six months.
Explorers are also offered exemptions from licence work conditions and a waiver of application fees for the extension of term of exploration licences for six months.
“This support will help the mining sector to raise the necessary capital to fund ongoing exploration and get back to full strength faster after experiencing significant impacts like travel restrictions on personnel, supply chain restrictions and low metal and share prices,” Barnett said.
It goes on top of a range of other support provided by the state government, including a six-month extension on the third round of Exploration Drilling Grant Initiative (EDGI) completion data and opening of round four applications for the grant.
EDGI is an initiative by the Tasmanian Government, through which it offers grants for co-funded exploration drilling projects with the aim of providing a stimulus to greenfields exploration in Tasmania.
The state government is supporting this initiative with a $2 million funding over four years.
Under the round four of applications, it will also provide grants of up to $50,000 for direct drilling costs and $20,000 for helicopter support to pinpoint untapped mineral targets.
Tasmanian Government has also put a freeze on government fee increases for the 2020-21 financial year.
The mineral extraction and processing sector is Tasmania’s largest export industry and accounts for more than 50 per cent of mercantile exports, according to Mineral Resources of Australia.
Tasmania has three large operating mines, including long-term producers Rosebery (zinc, lead, gold, copper, silver), Savage River (magnetite, which is converted into iron ore pellets) and the Renison tin joint venture.