The Queensland government announced on 9 October 2012 that a new competitive cash bidding process would apply to companies seeking the right to explore on highly prospective coal, petroleum and gas resources tenements. This new legislation amends the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld) to allow for this to occur.
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said “this new process of allocating exploration rights will deliver a consistent approach across the resources sector and ensure all Queenslanders benefit from the timely development of the state’s most resource-rich areas.”
The changes will be significant for coal and petroleum proponents – coal miners will no longer be able to rely on the first in first served process that has governed the grants of permits thus far. The change, whilst resulting in increased revenues for government, will make it more difficult for smaller miners to compete with the deeper pockets and greater balance sheets of the larger miners.
The new legislation also allows for expressions of interest in Queensland’s lucrative bauxite leases in far north Queensland. In relation to this issue, the Minister said that “given the vast area of the Aurukun bauxite resource it is possible that following the tender process the State may select more than one proponent to develop different parts of the resource area.”