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The Queensland Government has announced the introduction of a new competitive cash bidding tender process for the exploration of Queensland coal, petroleum and gas resources.
Authorities to prospect for petroleum are already subject to a tender process, but this will now involve a cash component. For exploration permits for coal, the introduction of a tender process is an entirely new development.
Explorers will need to bid for the right to explore what the Government has described as ‘highly prospective land’ made available through tender. Importantly, successful tenderers will still need to meet environmental and tenure approval requirements and comply with native title, Aboriginal cultural heritage and land access laws.
The Government has stated that non-cash land releases in greenfield and under-explored areas will continue, in an attempt to promote exploration opportunities for junior explorers. It is unclear at this stage how the Government will differentiate between ‘highly prospective’ and ‘greenfield’ areas, making it difficult to determine how much of Queensland will be affected by this new policy.
First releases for petroleum and gas
The first tenders have opened for two areas of land in the Surat Basin and Bowen Basin for petroleum and gas exploration. The tender applications for this first release must be hand delivered before 2.30pm on 14 February 2013. The new cash-bidding process for the exploration of petroleum and gas resources will operate in accordance with the existing tender requirements set out under the petroleum and gas legislation.
Releases for coal exploration yet to be released
Legislative amendments to implement the tender requirements for coal exploration are required and the Government states that these are in the process of being developed. The Government reports that information about the tender process for coal exploration will be released later in the 2012-2013 financial year.
Companies exploring for minerals other than coal will not be affected by the new cash bidding process.
Your next move
If you would like to discuss the potential implications of the announcement and how it affects your business, please contact us.
Focus covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. Focus is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.