Blueprint lays out future for Australia’s North West Minerals Province

Queensland’s rich minerals bounty in the north is the key focus for the State Government’s blueprint to drive the next wave of resource development and new industry in Queensland’s North West Minerals Province. Centred around Mount Isa and Cloncurry, the North West Minerals Province is one of the world’s richest mineral-producing regions. While it has delivered significant economic benefits to Queensland for decades, fluctuating commodity prices and mining activities have presented challenges for the resources sector.

With positive economic signs emerging, including significant new regional projects there is a growing global demand for the minerals and rare earths in this highly prospective region. Building on the work of the North West Minerals Province Taskforce, established in November 2015 to identify the challenges facing the resources sector in the region, the blueprint is designed to stimulate exploration investment and identify new opportunities.

The blueprint will deliver projects valued at more than $30 million to support the resources sector including:

  • Large-scale geological surveys to identify new commercial deposits
  • A four-year exploration program to support exploration in greenfield and high-risk areas
  • More international promotion to investors including an annual investor forum in Townsville
  • Red-tape reduction for explorers, including a hands-on team to help smaller miners get their projects over the investment line.

To kick it off, a tender to explore 102 km2 near Cloncurry and seek out new prospects, was granted to Teck Australia in July 2017. It’s a major world producer of base metals as well as specialty metals such as germanium, indium and cadmium and will start exploration work for zinc, lead and silver as soon as it is granted its exploration authority. The company must secure environmental approvals and complete native title negotiations with traditional owners before an exploration authority is granted.

Round 1 of collaborative exploration initiative grants have just closed with Round 2 expected to be open 2018. Additional incentives for Round 1 may apply if the project is completed by 10 August 2018.

The added bonus is that the geological information unearthed becomes available to all explorers at the government’s geological ‘libraries’ at Mount Isa and Brisbane. Grants meet up to half of the direct activity costs, including drilling and geophysical and geochemical surveys, to a maximum of A$200,000.

As an example, previous grant recipient Red Metal Ltd reinterpreted historical company data at its Maronan prospect near Cloncurry to propose a new geological model in an area that was previously deemed uneconomic. The base metal explorer put down a deep drill hole and found high lead and silver grades and previously unknown copper mineralisation.