World Mining Congress: Queensland to make $245 million critical investment

The 26th World Mining Congress (WMC) was held in Brisbane this week, the first time in 65 years the ‘prestigious’ international mining event has been held in Australia.

Taking to the stage at the city’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk took the opportunity to tell more than 3,000 delegates from 50-plus countries of the government’s strategy to oversee a $245 million investment into the state’s critical minerals sector.

Palaszczuk told the WMC that Queensland has an abundance of critical minerals which are needed to build the infrastructure required to transition to a net-zero emissions future.

As part of the strategy, the government will reduce rent for new and existing exploration permits for minerals to $0 for the next 5 years, worth $55 million. It will also be establishing critical mineral zones – initially at Julia Creek/Richmond and around Mount Isa – with $75 million to support investment and renewed focus in advancing critical minerals projects.

“In Queensland we have some of the world’s richest mineral-producing areas, which in North Queensland alone is estimated to be worth $500 billion dollars”

Palaszczuk said: “In Queensland we have some of the world’s richest mineral-producing areas, which in North Queensland alone is estimated to be worth $500 billion dollars.

“This is why our government is investing $5 billion to build CopperString 2032, to connect the North West Minerals Province, with the largest renewable energy zone on the east coast of Australia to mine and process critical minerals with renewable energy.

“The Queensland Critical Mineral Strategy is about growing this industry by not just mining the raw materials but also being able to process it and manufacturing renewables right here in Queensland.”

The strategy is in addition to the $68 million Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan and $75 million Queensland Resources Common User Facility (QRCUF) that will be built in Townsville.

QRCUF is the ‘first of its kind’ for Australia and is designed to accelerate the development of critical mineral commercial mining projects, promote investment in advanced mineral manufacturing opportunities, and support supply chain and supporting industry development.

Adding to Palaszczuk’s comments, Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the state has vast reserves of critical minerals, such as copper, zinc, vanadium, and cobalt, that the world is demanding to produce batteries and renewable energy as part of plans to decarbonise.

“The Queensland Critical Minerals Strategy is about acting now to position Queensland as a global leader in this new industrial revolution. If we do not manufacture our future, someone else will, leaving Queensland to remain a low-end supplier of minerals and nothing more.”

Despite the bullish reception of Palaszczuk’s announcement at WMC, it emerged BHP (ASX:BHP) CEO Mike Henry was less than impressed. He reportedly told WMC delegates on Tuesday that the mining behemoth would not be investing further in Queensland under current conditions.

Henry spoke against the ‘near tripling’ of top end royalties that he said makes Queensland the highest coal taxing regime in the world. Major coal players are vowing to exit the state due to the Queensland government’s hike in coal royalties, which led to more than $15 billion tipped into government’s coffers in the 2022–23 state budget.

Inaugurated and first held in Poland in 1958, the World Mining Congress has set the scene for global agreements and high-level discussions that have influenced mining practices and the resource industry for decades.

The normally triennial event, which has been held in a slew of eastern European capitals since its inception, was last held in Kazakhstan in 2018 and returned this year after a COVID-19 induced delay.

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Written By Adam Orlando Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.