Qld Govt Commits A$13.8M To Unlock Critical Minerals

The Queensland government on Tuesday announced A$13.8-million in funding for critical minerals in an effort to open up the untapped ‘new economy’ minerals bounty in North Queensland and foster new discoveries, projects and jobs.

“Global demand is set to soar for cobalt and rare earth minerals needed for wind turbines, generators and batteries and copper needed for electric cars and the North is rich in these new economy minerals,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“Our five-year package aims to encourage new exploration, re-investigate old mines and probe the geological information government holds already. Some of these new-age minerals are found with more traditional minerals – like rare earths with phosphate – which is why we will be looking at some of our old mines for new opportunity.”

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the funding announcement built on the commitments made in this year’s budget to reduce rail access charges on the Townsville to Mount Isa Rail Line and build a new a new common user rail freight terminal to handle freight more efficiently at the Port of Townsville.

“We are delivering a complete pit to port package for the North West Minerals Province because we want to create more jobs in the resources sector,” Trad said.

“Industry has backed our plan because we are doing what it takes to grow jobs in the region. We aren’t just talking about the North West Mineral Province, we are making the North West an investment and jobs powerhouse.”

The package announced today comprises A$4.8-million to re-examine old mine tailings and core samples for new age minerals and A$9-million to unearth more and better geological information to help industry identify new projects, including A$3.5-million in industry grants over five years for new and innovative exploration activities.

Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the information drive would use a range of exploration techniques, including aerial magnetic and gravity surveys, as well as encourage exploration companies to explore promising areas themselves with the extra grants.

“The findings from our own surveys and studies will encourage further exploration and the eventual future development of new mining projects in Queensland,” Lynham said.

“This is a practical way to help industry to explore Queensland further, and for new minerals, focusing on a massive corridor reaching from the west of Mount Isa to Townsville.

“The resources sector is already a massive contributor to Queensland’s regional economies. Over the year to August 2019, Queensland’s minerals exports topped A$10.5-billion, supporting more than 19 000 mineral mining jobs.

“The demand for jobs in the resources sector is already on the rise and this investment will drive the evolution of projects and jobs of the future, delivering minerals of the future.”

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) on Tuesday said that the five-year funding package would attract more overseas investment, drive more international trade and create more local jobs.

“Queensland has globally-significant reserves of copper, nickel, zinc, graphite and molybdenum and major deposits of cobalt, rhenium, scandium, tantalum, niobium, lithium, rare earths and vanadium,” QRC CEO Ian Macfarlane said.

“Queensland will be at the forefront of the development of critical minerals for Australia and the world, whether for defence industries, manufacturing, trade and regional development.

“These rich reserves will help support the global expansion of renewable energy and battery storage technology and the uptake of electric vehicles.”

The new funding builds on previous commitments including A$39-million in the 2017 budget for the North West Queensland Economic Diversification strategy, A$380-million of previous funding commitments for the Mount Isa Rail Line and A$80-million to reduce rail access charges on the Townsville to Mount Isa Rail Line, bringing the total commitment to initiatives that support the North West Minerals Province and economic diversification to A$557.3-million.