AusIMM Southern Queensland Branch June 2018 technical meeting
On 28 June 2018 the AusIMM Southern Queensland Branch, in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Geoscientists and the Geological Society of Australia, hosted its June technical meeting featuring a lecture on the state of mineral and coal exploration in Queensland.
The forum was well attended with an audience of 130 participating in a robust discussion on improving exploration and the perceptions of the mining industry in Queensland.
The Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy the Honorable Anthony Lynham opened the lecture session and gave an enthusiastic endorsement of the mining industry in Queensland, including the value of the mining royalties to the state.
The first speaker was Queensland’s Resources Investment Commissioner Todd Harrington. Todd provided a presentation of the considerable advantages Queensland offers the mining industry. Two thirds of the coal produced in Queensland is metallurgical grade coal and the steel industry depends on this coal. Evidence of resurgence in the mining industry was provided by the increase in the number of mining IPOs, as well as an increase in the exploration expenditure in Australia. In Queensland, coal exploration has increased. Divestment of coal properties in Queensland has seen more of the coal industry now owned by Australian private equity and Tier 1 listed mining companies. Gas operations are following a similar trend. Improvements in latent capacity in infrastructure, reduced operating costs relating to the Australian dollar value and the availability of skilled labour have improved the potential for investments in Queensland. Renewable technology needs the steel made from Queensland coal as well as the metals produced from Queensland minerals so the future for the mining industry in Queensland is clearly the ‘Best in Class’.
The CEO of the Queensland Resources Council, Ian MacFarlane, then provided a presentation from the Queensland Resources Council’s point of view. His first slide showed that internationally, Queensland is the top source of traded coking coal, the number two source of lead, the number three source of bauxite and zinc and the number three source of copper. Queensland is also now the number two exporter of LNG globally. Over 80 per cent of Queensland exports come from the resource and the agricultural industries. In fact, he and the Minister agreed that Brisbane is the largest mining town in Australia with at least one in five city dwellers dependent on the mining industry either directly or through services and equipment supply. Mr MacFarlane went on to say that the larger mining companies had realised that despite this, they had a responsibility to keep the community informed of the value of the resource industry in Queensland. These companies are increasing their funding to improve communications with the community and counter alarmist viewpoints from organisations opposed to the mining industry.
In question time both the Minister and Ian Macfarlane encouraged those present and the those employed by the industry to speak up in their communities about the value of the mining industry to Queensland.
In terms of what can be done to improve the time and reduce the complexity for exploration leases to be processed, Dr Lynham offered that the government is working towards reducing the approval times but reminded the audience that working with the community and farmers is required.