Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane. Picture: Jerad Williams
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane. Picture: Jerad Williams

Exploration spikes on confidence

MINING exploration spiked as confidence increased across Queensland's resources sector last year despite projects increasingly needing a"social licence" to secure capital, according to a new report.

The Queensland Exploration Council's annual industry scorecard, to be released today shows coal exploration increased last year for only the second time since 2011-12 while spending on exploration for copper, gold and petroleum all jumped by at least 10 per cent.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the results showed the industry was poised to "benefit from our state's rich mineral prospectivity".

"The results underpin the growing optimism in the exploration industry with 58 per cent of explorers planning to increase or significantly increase their exploration and expenditure and 92 per cent of drilling companies forecasting similar or increased spending over the next 12 months," he said.

But the report also sounded some alarms from within the industry about a more challenging investment environment.

"Community support for a project is rapidly becoming a necessary prerequisite for explorers' access to investment capital," the report says.

"The trend is a major shift for Queensland explorers and the results in this year's scorecard suggest elements of industry are still catching up."

Mr Macfarlane said the industry needed a "clear and stable" policy environment to ensure it could continue to attract new investment and create jobs.

"Despite our rich prospectivity, Queensland cannot take future investment for granted," he said.

"These will be key issues for Queensland in the election year 2020."

The report found that explorers reported having a positive sentiment for only three of 15 surveyed areas, down from six last year.

QEC chairman Kim Wainwright said explorers had praised the work of the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.

She said it was the first time in the nine-year history of the scorecard that explorers had been positive about departmental assistance.

"Our industry will continue to work constructively with the government and department to improve the exploration permit process," she said.

"Exploration is the cornerstone of the overall resources industry and if we don't explore for new resources today we won't have a resources industry into the future."