Miners not feeling the love anymore after big shifts in government policy

Remarkable and perplexing is how the Queensland Exploration Council described the results of its latest industry survey which showed a contagion effect had occurred in the industry following government policy shifts.

Nov 22, 2023, updated Nov 22, 2023
The mining exploration industry has turned sour. Photo: ABC

The mining exploration industry has turned sour. Photo: ABC

While the exploration sector has always been pessimistic about government policy, it had reached an all-time low and what perplexed the QEC was how companies were consistently negative about issues where there had been no policy changes in the past decade, such as land access and cultural heritage.

“It raises questions about how to interpret persistent negative feedback,” the report said.

The exploration scorecard showed “a remarkable shift” had taken place. The average sentiment had “plunged” to its lowest level since 2011-12 when the mining boom was in full-on collapse with thousands of jobs being lost.

This was despite a well-received Critical Mineral Strategy launched earlier in the year which included “magnificent cash flow bonuses for explorers right across the whole state” and five-year rent holiday.

Despite this, “a contagion effect” was taking hold in the sector which may have been the result of the Federal Government’s intervention in the gas market and the State Government’s coal royalties hike. There was also concern about a potential Environmental Protection Agency within the Federal Government and possible changes to how the industry could operate in the Lake Eyre Basin.

There was also pessimism in the coal and minerals sector about the access to capital.

The industry showed negativity about exploration permit processes, the availability of land, cultural heritage, native title, environment and the industry perception of the social licence to operate.

“The negative upswing this year indicates a significant setback, undoing many of the hard-won gains achieved in recent years for some of these categories,” the QEC said.

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“There is an unequivocal signal from the exploration sector that policy interventions at the state and federal levels are sapping confidence and creating uncertainty that flows on to investment decisions.”

While other states also showed negativity, policy uncertainty was worse in Queensland.

The labour shortage was also a major factor for the sector, but so too were perceptions within the industry about its social licence, particularly in the petroleum sector where social licence requirements were seen as restrictive.



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