Two Australian exploration companies – Metroof Minerals and Sojitz Coal – have been named as preferred tenders to unlock the next round of coal reserves in Queensland’s Bowen Basin coal country.
The two explorers have exploration rights to a total of about 13,100 hectares between Middlemount and Blackwater, an area with decades of coal mining history.
Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said awarding the tenders was another positive result from the state’s first annual exploration program that gave the resources sector its first forward plan for government exploration tenders.
“Potentially, these tenders could be our next generation of coal development in an area with a history of successful coal development for export and electricity generation,” he said.
“The Bowen Basin contains the majority of Queensland’s coking, metallurgical and thermal coal reserves which are ripe for export.
“This demonstrates the Palaszczuk Government’s ongoing commitment to the keeping resources industry moving, creating jobs and generating royalties.”
Metroof Minerals has been awarded an exploration authority for 86 square kilometres, 60 km south-east of Middlemount.
Metroof director Ken Broadfoot said the new tender complements the group’s existing authorities on the eastern edge of the Bowen Basin.
“This exploration authority continues Metroof’s diversification into the Queensland market,” Mr Broadfoot said.
“Long-term, should this exploration authority prove probable our interest is to convert this into mining activity, similar to our existing operations in other parts of Australia.”
Sojitz Coal has been awarded an exploration authority to explore 45 square kilometres 25 km south-east of Middlemount.
Sojitz Coal managing director and chief executive officer Cameron Vorias said the exploration authority would further complement the company’s Queensland metallurgical coal interests.
“This gives opportunity for Sojitz Coal to further grow its portfolio focussing predominately on metallurgical coal and the development of the next generation of close to surface coking coal deposits in Central Queensland,” Mr Vorias said.
“This exploration authority will also broaden our local footprint which includes our Management and operating interests in the new Meteor Downs South mine as well as our existing Minerva mine.
“Importantly, the Sojitz Coal business have specialised in highly productive, cost competitive thin seam mining operations which provides an excellent platform for developing coal deposits in the Fort Cooper coal measures.”
Metroof and Sojitz must now negotiate land access agreements and fulfil any existing environmental and Native Title requirements before the exploration authority is granted and work can begin.
A petroleum and gas exploration tender is underway, closing at the end of May, for 12 parcels of land across 17,826 square kilometres and another round of minerals exploration tenders is also due to open this month over 1107 square kilometres.