Qld budget hopes to boost exploration spend

13th June 2023 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

Qld budget hopes to boost exploration spend

Photo by: Bloomberg

PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Queensland government on Tuesday announced a more than A$50-million injection to boost exploration initiatives in the state as part of the State Budget.

“This budget continues our commitment to work with industry to grow and transform Queensland’s resources sector and to keep it thriving,” said Treasurer Cameron Dick.

“We value the resources industry for the jobs it supports and the royalties it generates which help support our regional communities throughout Queensland.”

The A$21-million Frontier Gas Exploration grants programme is a new initiative that will help drive exploration for new gas reserves in the Bowen and Galilee basins over the next two years, while nearly A$10-million of additional funds will be invested over the next four years under Queensland’s vegetation management framework with a focus on working with landholders on the government’s commitment to achieve emission reductions targets.

The government will continue to implement the Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan, a 30-year vision to grow and transform the sector.

The Natural Resources Recovery Program (NRRP) will continue to be supported, providing A$10-million in grants in the next financial year to help improve the resilience of Queensland’s natural landscapes and support jobs.

“Exploration is the lifeblood of new resources projects and jobs, and that’s why as a government we are continuing to support exploration,” said Resources Minister Scott Stewart.

“Our new A$21-million Frontier Gas Exploration programme also recognises the important role of gas for firming renewable energy generation in Queensland as we work to achieve 70% renewable energy by 2032 and 80% by 2035 under the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan.

“Queensland continues to do the heavy lifting when it comes to gas and we continue to support the sector.

“The NRRP has been extremely popular because it increases the potential of the state’s natural resources, and supports the creation of good jobs and regional economies. That is why we will continue to support this programme with A$10-million in the next financial year.

“This is a budget that will continue to invest in our natural resource assets to achieve real environmental and economic outcomes for Queensland communities,” said Stewart.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) on Tuesday said that the State Budget had exposed the government’s "serious miscalculation" in its snap decision to impose the world’s highest coal royalty tax, warning again that it would have long-term consequences of lost jobs and lost investments especially in regional communities. 

Last year, the Queensland government said the new tiers would cost coal producers an extra A$800-million this financial year, however, the Budget figures revealed the government would collect a record A$15.3-billion from coal royalties, including A$5.7-billion from the new royalty taxes. 

“There has to be a balance between what the Queensland government takes from the resources sector and what it leaves to encourage companies to continue to invest the capital required to get large-scale, multi-decade projects off the ground,” said QRC CEO Ian Macfarlane

“The reason Queenslanders are benefiting today from the resources sector is because of investment decisions made years, if not decades, ago by resources companies which saw Queensland as a safe and secure place in which to invest. 

“That long-held perception of Queensland has now changed, for the worse. 

“A $2-billion investment in Central Queensland that would have created more than 2 000 jobs has been cancelled, and a number of companies have indicated they are reconsidering their investment plans. 

"A pipeline of more than A$100-billion in a range of projects, including the minerals needed for lower emissions energy and technologies, could also be at risk because of the uncertainty that now exists for companies weighing up whether to invest in Queensland. 

“The Queensland resources sector is proud of the significant contribution it makes that enables the state government to provide the services and support Queenslanders need, especially when many are doing it tough,” Macfarlane said. 

“Over A$18-billion in royalty taxes paid by the Queensland resources sector has enabled the state government to deliver a budget that provides cost-of-living relief to Queenslanders. 

“But if the government wants the resources sector to be able to continue to provide that support into the future, it needs policies that encourage investment to maintain a stable pipeline of projects in the years and decades to come."

The QRC called on the Queensland government to provide full details on its funding commitments to regional Queensland communities that are the backbone of the state's resources sector. 

“Such a big economic impost on resources companies will have consequences and they’ll be hardest felt in regional communities that rely on the jobs and local spending that the sector provides,” Macfarlane said. 

“Many regional resources towns that help generate the billions of dollars of extra revenue now pouring into government coffers are still waiting to see exactly how that money will benefit their regions.”

As part of the State Budget, the Queensland government announced that five resource communities would be eligible to share the A$120-million round three of the Resources Community Infrastructure Fund (RCIF), which would have a special focus on the coal-producing regions of Isaac, Central Highlands, Banana, Western Downs and the Whitsunday local government areas. 

The RCIF assists eligible organisations with the construction of community infrastructure, including new infrastructure or the upgrade, extension or replacement of existing buildings.

“This fund was established to reward the hard-working coal mining communities of Queensland,” said Dick on Tuesday.

“It is these hard-working coal mining communities that deliver for the people of Queensland.

“The A$120-million RCIF round 3 will deliver infrastructure to meet each community’s needs, maximise its potential and enhance community wellbeing. It’s imperative that we put back into those coal-producing communities that have played such an important role in Queensland’s economic strength for so long. They deserve their fair share, and through A$120-million fully funded by the government, the lives of those communities will be further enhanced.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the projects put forward for funding and to see them being enjoyed by the communities when they are delivered,” the Treasurer added.