Resources exploration is the process of searching areas for deposits of minerals or petroleum in the ground. The exploration journey commences with low impact activities like mapping and surveying to identify whether minerals or petroleum are present, before progressing to more intensive and advanced exploration activities like drilling and bulk sampling. Hear first-hand from the guys on the ground that have achieved success as Queensland explorers.

RED METAL LIMITED – a consistent performer

Red Metal is known in the industry as a strong performing explorer, winning the Explorer of the Year award in 2013. Red Metal focuses on copper, gold, lead, silver and zinc targets, predominately in the Mount Isa region (north west Queensland).

Red Metal’s most advanced asset is the Maronan project. A Preliminary Mine Scoping Study based on significant resources of lead, silver, copper and gold highlighted the project’s robustness and potential to generate strong positive cash flows.

Work to date presents a strong technical and economic case to advance the project. The company is in the process of finding a competent mining group to join in moving Maronan towards a final feasibility study.

One of Red Metal’s great strengths is its exploration team’s ability to generate and secure exciting, “Tier 1” drill target concepts in both proven and frontier terrains that repeatedly capture the markets imagination.

Red Metal began by focusing on finding large base metal projects in Australian and has maintained that strategy for 14 years – a remarkable achievement for any explorer large or small. The Red Metal team’s advice for any up-and-coming explorer: “put yourself in elephant country, try something different and drill”.


SENEX ENERGY – from little things, big things grow

Senex Energy is the ultimate ‘from little things, big things grow’ story with a 30-year history in Australia. Senex operates in two of Australia’s most prolific onshore oil and gas regions, the Surat and Cooper basins, however the company has come from small beginnings.

Senex was first listed on the ASX in August 1984 as Victoria Petroleum N.L. At that time, the company was based in Perth and headed by Founding Managing Director John Kopcheff, who retired from the Board in September 2010.

In June 2010, the company announced the appointment of Ian Davies as Managing Director and advised that the business would relocate its head office to Brisbane. Later in the year, the business announced, “aggressive development programs” for its oil and gas acreage through the purchase of some key tenements from then Queensland Gas Company (QGC) (now part of Shell Australia assets).

In February 2011, the company officially changed its name to Senex Energy Limited following the merge with fellow Cooper Basin oil producer Stuart Petroleum.

Today, Senex continues to operate the majority of its low cost oil producing assets, and is pursuing exploration, appraisal and development of its oil and gas acreage in the Cooper Basin. In Queensland’s Surat Basin, the company is progressing new gas projects and contributing to energy security on Australia’s east coast.


VITRINITE – the entrepreneurs

Vitrinite Pty Ltd is a privately-owned company holding an extensive strategic coking coal tenement portfolio within Queensland’s world-class Bowen Basin. Our assets are situated in close proximity to operating mines, infrastructure and proven economic resources. Vitrinite is currently focused on executing an exploration drilling and definition program of JORC resources across multiple sites representing the next generation of premium tier one assets in Australia.

Vitrinite is a young, progressive company. We insist on excellence in every aspect of our work and take immense pride in the coal industry and the Australian resources sector. We are stewards of the lands and minerals we are developing, aiming to achieve outsized returns for our shareholders and stakeholders.

We embody and encourage an open and collaborative attitude, inward and outward, in our company values. Vitrinite’s vision is to create value and wealth through the provision of energy to power world economic growth, setting and exceeding world’s best practices in every endeavour.


BOB BRYAN AM – onshore gas industry champion

After a successful career developing mining operations and companies, geologist Bob Bryan AM achieved unparallelled success as founding chairman of Queensland Gas Company.

“The trick was to find thick coal seams where the gas could accumulate… from years of drilling in the Surat Basin… I knew of a number of drilling rigs that had caught fire after encountering gas. Safety procedures were pretty rudimentary then. The drillers would smoke when it took their fancy. Up would come the gas, and bang went the rig. We identified where half a dozen rigs had been lost over the years. It was a rather crude prospecting tool, but it worked.”

Bob formed a partnership with Dick Groves, a consultant geologist and his partner Bob Bell, and after a shaky start (‘far more ideas than money’), Bob snaffled former power wunderkind Richard Cottee as MD. The rest – the company’s stellar rise from a market cap of less than $20 million to $5.6 billion in eight years to become a leading seam gas producer in Queensland – is, as they say, history.


MOUNT ISA MINES – a global icon

Established in January 1924, Mount Isa Mines grew from humble and isolated beginnings to become one of the world’s largest underground mining operations, and a business that has made a significant contribution to the growth and economic prosperity of Queensland.

Lead ore was discovered at Mount Isa in 1923 by prospector John Campbell Miles. As word spread of his discovery, prospectors moved into the region, pegging out 118 leases by the end of 1923. It was engineer and entrepreneur William Corbould who consolidated the many mining leases on the field and established Mount Isa Mines in January 1924.

In the early years Mount Isa Mines faced hardship in developing the mine and transporting ore to port in Townsville. The first train pulled into Mount Isa in April 1929, and it was this line that went on to become the State’s most profitable, providing the state government with the capital to revitalise other rail lines throughout Queensland.


William Knox D’Arcy was born in Devonshire England in 1849 and with his family migrated to Australia in 1866 where his father set up practice as a solicitor in the central Queensland town of Rockhampton. Upon completing his Articles in 1872 D’Arcy was admitted as a solicitor and in 1882 he joined a syndicate to develop leases owned by the Morgan brothers at Mount Morgan.

In 1886, Mount Morgan Gold Mining Limited with a capital of one million one pound shares was floated on the Stock Exchange in Sydney. D’Arcy relentlessly purchased shares until he owned 36% of the company which operated as one of the richest gold mines in the world.

As D’Arcy saw that oil would be a crucial commodity, he sent representatives to Persia to assess the prospects of finding oil and to negotiate a potential concession. In 1901 an agreement was reached with the Shah of Persia giving D’Arcy exclusive rights for 60 years to mine exploit and sell natural gas, petroleum, asphalt and mineral waxes over nearly three quarters of Persia. In return, the Shah received 20 thousand pounds cash, shares valued at sixteen percent of the annual net profits from the companies operating the concession.

Read more about this fascinating story with global implications on the Queensland Business Leaders’ Hall of Fame website.