New tendering processes for both coal and other minerals
means junior explorers must approach their applications very
differently from the past. You will need a compelling case to have
your application prioritised in the new scramble for
In March 2013, the Queensland Government introduced a
competitive tender process for the grant of exploration permits for
coal. The rationale for the tendering process was to ensure
"the most appropriate explorer with a commitment to resource
development secures available land for exploration".
We are now seeing this tendering process being implemented for
coal tenures in the Bowen Basin.
At the same time, the government is also using a pseudo
tendering process in some instances in some areas for exploration
permits for minerals other than coal while still maintaining the
general over-the-counter system for these exploration permits
NON-CASH COAL EXPLORATION TENDERS
The Queensland Government has called its first ever non-cash
coal exploration tender in respect of land in the northern Bowen
Basin. The seven areas of available land cover approximately 1,300
square kilometres (approximately 430 sub-blocks).
As the tender process will not involve a cash bidding component,
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps has stated
that "applicants will be assessed according to their proposed
work program and the associated technical and financial capability
to meet that work program".
The lack of a cash bidding component has been described as an
"opportunity for junior explorers to make their mark...
ensuring land is allocated to those most able and committed to
effectively explore for potential resources".
Under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld), the
Minister may use any process that they consider appropriate to
decide the call for tenders. Tenders must be submitted before
2.30pm on Wednesday, 5 March 2014. For more
information on submitting a tender, click here.
COMPETITIVE TENDERING FOR OTHER MINERALS
Over-the-counter applications are still the primary application
method for exploration permits for minerals other than coal.
However, in some instances the Queensland Government has
effectively created a competitive tendering process through the
strategic use of Restricted Areas.
The Queensland Government has declared Restricted Areas over
prospective areas of land and requested that applications for
exploration permits over that land be submitted on the day
following the repeal of the Restricted Area. This allows the
Government to receive multiple applications on the same day and
consider and prioritise the applications based on the merits of
each application, rather than treat them in the order they were
A recent example of such a scenario is the repeal of Restricted
Areas 351, 353 and 354 on 28 July 2013, which covered an area of
land 400km south of Mt Isa. The Restricted Areas were put in
place for several months, which allowed all interested parties time
to prepare applications for exploration permits over that
land. On the day following the repeal of the Restricted
Areas, a number of parties were able to submit applications.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
The use of tendering processes for both coal and other minerals
means junior explorers will need to approach their applications
very differently from the past. Applicant tenderers will need
to make a compelling case to have their applications given priority
in a new scramble for territory.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT EXPLORATION?
Recent changes to the law in Queensland have increased the
amount and complexity of regulation of exploration
activities. An explorer must now grapple with a wider number
of legal issues than in the past and often at an earlier stage of
the project than previously.
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The article examines the regulation of the oil and gas industry and breaks down the regulatory process state by state.
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