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The Queensland Government has provided almost $5 million in investment to strengthen the state’s exploration sector as part of this year’s Budget.

The funding includes $2.5 million towards Collaborative Exploration Initiative grants and a further $2.2 million to help with the development and expansion of the New Economy Minerals industry in Queensland.

Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the resources sector plays a vital role in supporting jobs across the state.

“It will be a key part of Queensland’s plan for economic recovery from COVID-19,” Stewart said.

“We know that supporting the exploration industry is important for finding new deposits and developing new projects.

“In turn, more projects mean more royalties, exports and more jobs for Queenslanders. That is why we are backing the sector with a range of grants and opportunities for explorers.”

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive officer Warren Pearce said Queensland continued to offer a highly supportive environment for exploration and mining investment.

“These grants will drive greater investment into the state,” he said. “Much of this private investment is expected be directed towards finding new economy minerals, vital for producing renewable and clean energy technologies.”

Mineral exploration company Terra Search managing director Simon Beams said exploration was a key part of growing the resources industry and finding the next deposit.

“Grants like this are important to businesses that are focused on exploration,” Mr Beams said.

“There has been a real boom in demand lately for exploration services as companies look to find the next potential deposit.

“Terra Search is based in Townsville and we work closely with a range of junior miners as well as bigger operators to help with their exploration programs.”

Stewart said the latest ABS data showed exploration expenditure continued to grow significantly.

“According to the latest ABS statistics, investment in Queensland exploration has increased by an impressive 22.5 per cent to $705 million in 12 months,” he said.

“Queensland’s boost in exploration expenditure has come from strong growth in exploration for minerals (up 14.5 per cent) and oil and gas (up 53.1 per cent) compared to the previous 12 months.

“Building on this, last year alone the Palaszczuk Government released a total of 8205 square kilometres for gas exploration to maintain a pipeline of future resources projects.”

The Queensland Government has invested more than $6.8 million in exploration grants and programs since 2017.