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The Queensland Government has released a discussion paper looking at changing the way exploration is run for critical minerals, including speeding up approvals in the state.

Resources Minister Scott Stewart said Queensland had vast reserves of the critical minerals needed to implement its Energy and Jobs Plan, reducing emissions and creating good jobs.

“The world needs those minerals too, but we need to drive exploration, discovery and development of those deposits to snare the opportunities and jobs available,” he said.

“The proposals now on the table seek feedback, with the goal to make exploration more effective, efficient and affordable.”

The Government committed earlier this year in its 30-year plan for the resources industry to improve the way it releases land for exploration and to simplify the process for applicants to gain access to that land.

One of the key proposals in this paper is replicating existing arrangements for coal, oil and gas to apply to critical minerals.

Currently the Department of Resources identifies prospective areas for coal, oil and gas and then releases this land for competitive tenders.

Stewart said selecting highly prospective areas for tender benefited explorers and the owners of those resources: Queenslanders.

“Identifying areas with good prospects removes some of the risk for explorers, because the existing science tells us that it’s likely deposits could lie in those areas,” he said.

“A competitive tender process ensures the company that has the best capacity to explore and develop the site is chosen.”

The paper also proposes:

  • speeding up the whole tender process, which currently can take up to five-and-a-half months from seeking to awarding tenders
  • timing land releases with the industry’s typical peaks and troughs of activity during the year, so that when the government awards tenders, companies can get on the ground straight away

“Having a consistent, indicative schedule of releases will also help industry plan ahead and provide more information for communities and Traditional Owners in areas to be explored,” Stewart said.

The paper is available at and consultation is open until February 24, 2023.