Access to land and finance remain big issues on the minds of junior explorers in Queensland.
Peak industry body the Queensland Exploration Council (QEC) is an off-shoot of the Queensland Resources Council and gives smaller members a voice to power.
The QEC is chaired by Kim Wainwright whose company Xplore Resources started out providing exploration professionals in the field. Ms Wainwright now runs various companies with services including sourcing the assets for clients, charter travel management and industry corporate services.
She told iQ’s Robert Dark that the QEC provides opportunity for smaller miners and members of the services and supply chain to have their say.
“So, what they had in mind was to link the investment community together with the explorers and create networking events and forums for them to interact, so that essentially we can build the exploration sector in Queensland.
Behind that, is the Queensland Resources Council (QRC), who advocates the resources industry to the Government and abroad; the QEC is able to provide feedback for the QRC’s policy-making process regarding what’s best for the exploration sector.”
What does the typical QEC member look like?
“The QEC has a wide range of members …. we have both junior explorers and major operating companies. You’ may have noticed over the last few years some of the larger companies have commenced different or new exploration in Queensland. Then, we have services companies, government, the finance and legal communities, and academic leaders as well.
So, the QEC has a broad range of members, which is great. We love that, especially the diversity of skills on our working groups…”
It was good to see a group from Townsville at the last technical talk, (Professor) Paul Dirks, and a couple of PhD students were there.
“That’s right. I think that the wide reach for bringing the universities into our forums is actually informing and building our sector as well. We’re lucky to have Professor Rick Valenta from UQ (University of Queensland), he’s a member on the QEC Management Committee and he ties in academic research into what we’re trying to project about Queensland and its attractiveness.
So, we’ve been quite fortunate with the level of talent and interest in the QEC as well.”
What are the biggest barriers to operation for members?
“ The QEC has an industry feedback working group and a platform through QUREX which is our online gateway, that we use to get information out and also obtain information from the public and members.
We’ve created a feedback mechanism for those exploring in Queensland to ascertain what are the barriers, or things that could be improved on. The things that come up most are land access, as well as access to capital and investment.
They’re the continual issues that we see. I’m guessing these things would probably be quite common across States as well, but definitely the land access and the time parameters around that as well.”
I don’t think there’s been a successful float of a junior miner in the last 12 months either. It’s definitely not fashionable at the moment is it?
“Well, IPOs come with a certain amount of risk, like all forms of exploration. There were quite a few years where money flowing into this space was short. So, explorers and investors start to get a little more risk-averse if they feel that there’s a lack of available funds to be able to raise the capital for the projects. That’s probably why there may not have been any floats done in this space.
There’re lots of junior explorers listed on the ASX and deals that have been done through project vends, but brand-new IPOs, it has been quiet on that front.”
Why do the activities of the QEC and its members matter to the wider public?
“Effectively, what we’re trying to do is help our members and explorers in Queensland to advance their projects. Then, this creates more jobs for Queensland. In effect, if the project continues to advance it becomes a mine and there’ll be even more jobs. Then there’s the royalties as well…”
“So, it has that flow-on effect for the economy. At the end of the day, if there’s no exploration, there is no new mines. So, it should be of interest to the wider public because our economy would be significantly affected without the resources sector in Australia.”
If you had the opportunity to address federal cabinet, what would you say?
“I think we need to further educate the community on the importance of exploration and the resources sector generally (and it feeds back into the previous question) so that they understand that that resources sector brings a lot to our standard of living and the way that we live here in Australia. We are the lucky country. I think that gets lost sometimes.”