Qld invests heavily in jobs, hydrogen and mining

1st December 2020 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Queensland resources sector has committed to working with the state government to support economic recovery post the Covid-19 pandemic, as the government released its 2020/21 Budget.

Treasurer and Minister for Investment Cameron Dick on Tuesday revealed Queensland would be the only state, other than Western Australia, to record positive economic growth this financial year.

The state budget has delivered more than A$29-million in exploration grants, initiatives and Covid-19 support over the next few years, to boost resource exploration in the region during 2020/21.

Minister for Resources Scott Stewart said the budget boost for exploration would help drive future resource projects and the thousands of jobs that would flow from them.

“This year’s budget will invest A$9-million to help explorers discover new economy minerals that are high in demand globally in the renewables and tech sectors.

“We have already fast-tracked A$2-million in spending earlier this year to understand the potential for rare earth minerals. We will pump in another A$11.7-million in the following three years as new economy minerals will deliver the jobs of the future.”

Stewart noted that a further A$3.3-million will also go towards boosting gas and mineral exploration through the Strategic Resources Exploration Programme.

“In addition, to help keep explorers on the hunt we’ve also waived A$9.8-million in state rent to back explorers and have frozen exploration fees and charges until July 2021.”

Stewart said an A$845 000 budget will be provided to make data collected from exploration projects freely available from January 2021 via the government’s geological database.

“Everything learned from the exploration projects will be shared with the whole sector, helping to stimulate more mines, jobs and exports for Queensland.

“Gas infrastructure will also be critical, that is why we are investing A$5-million over the next two years on investigating potential new gas pipeline infrastructure to connect gas reserves in the Bowen basin to domestic customers and exports.

“Investing in infrastructure and supporting exploration is fundamental to maintaining ongoing resources investment and jobs into the future,” the Minister said.

Furthermore, the state government would also maintain its focus on renewable hydrogen, committing a further A$10-million over the next four years to develop the industry in Queensland, increasing the government’s funding commitment to the hydrogen industry to A$25-million.

“Renewable hydrogen offers the opportunity to create a new high-tech industry delivering enhanced environmental outcomes and highly skilled jobs. We will use this new allocation of funding to continue working with project proponents to support renewable hydrogen projects in regional Queensland,” said Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning Steven Miles.

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said the government’s first round of the A$15-million Hydrogen Industry Development Fund was quickly oversubscribed when it opened last year.

“The A$10-million commitment extends the support available to the emerging hydrogen industry in Queensland and is expected to lead to both construction and highly skilled operational jobs with the majority of investment interest in regional Queensland.

“The next round of Queensland’s Hydrogen Industry Development Fund will open following consultation with industry set down for January 2021.”

As part of the broader commitment by the government to industry training and skills, in relation to the hydrogen industry the government has committed A$20-million towards a Queensland Apprenticeships Centre in renewable hydrogen at Beenleigh, A$10.6-million towards a Hydrogen and Renewable Energy training facility at Bohle TAFE in Townsville, and A$2-million has been committed to upgrade training facilities at Gladstone State High School to prepare students for jobs in the hydrogen industry.

Furthermore, the state government is also investing A$200-million in a range of skills initiatives to help train and retain Queenslanders for in-demand jobs over the next four years, with a critical focus on skills and training in priority industry growth areas.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has welcomed the budget, with CEO Ian Macfarlane saying that creating more jobs in the region was exactly the right objective for this budget and would be helped by the fact that the resources sector is on the verge of becoming  an energy and resources superpower.

"Covid-19 has been a hammer blow to everyone’s Budget – households, businesses and governments," he said.

"The state Budget shows the resources sector will be needed more than ever in the Covid recovery. Our sector will be needed for jobs, for exports, for investment and ultimately for government revenue."

The Budget papers show the dual blows to the resources sector, in volumes and prices, has reduced royalties by 45% this financial year, with the budget forecasting a A$4-billion cumulative reduction in royalties over the next four years.

"However, the resources sector shares the Treasurer’s firm confidence that it will rebound,” Macfarlane said.

"Queensland can transition to a global energy superpower thanks to the quality of our coal and gas reserves and abundant renewable opportunities.

"The next stage of development is deploying the world-class expertise of Queensland’s resources industries to work to secure all the opportunities on offer as the state transitions to making renewable energy exports a reality,” Macfarlane said.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Appea) noted that while it has been a challenging year, the oil and gas sector would also remain vital in helping the Queensland economy rebound.

“This industry makes a significant contribution to the state with the Budget papers showing petroleum royalties were A$466-million in 2019/20 and forecast to increase to more than A$2-billion over the forward estimates,” said Appea Queensland director Georgy Mayo.

“The sector has also invested more than A$70-billion into Queensland’s economy due to the rapid development of the natural gas and liquefied natural gas industries. As a major economic driver for the state, the oil and gas sector is committed to working with the new government on the recovery process as well as on key reforms to help meet the many challenges ahead.”

Appea welcomed the Budget measure to integrate the Queensland Productivity Commission into Queensland’s Treasury to establish the Office of Productivity and Red Tape Reduction.

“New measures to reduce regulation and red tape will help to drive continued investment and certainty, which is the key to ensuring long-term growth as well as promoting the development of Queensland’s oil and gas resources,” Mayo said.

“Unlocking new oil and gas resources and acreage for development will help to build wealth, economic resilience and whole-of-economy gains for Queensland and the national economy.

“Responsible development of these resources will also provide lower emissions energy to the local economy and continue to form part of Queensland’s energy mix.

“The industry has effectively supported the Queensland economy during a tough time and it will continue to power the local economy for decades to come by providing energy security into the future.”