Queensland is rich in mineral and energy resources. Explorers and investors can identify opportunities across the state by viewing maps with information on geographical and geophysical data, geographic constraints and barriers, exploration and production authorities and native title.

An Introduction to Tenures, Exploration Permits & Environmental Authority

In Australia, the relationship between people and land is legally interpreted via the use of tenures; which determine who has the right to use or occupy land.

These tenures are designed to balance the financial security, social stability, economic growth and the sustainability of natural resources. Land typically falls within one of two categories. Freehold gives the owner the right to deal with the land as they wish. However, this ownership is not absolute, because the Australian government retains rights to the minerals within the ground. Crown land may be leased or licensed to corporations or individuals. In Queensland, there are three main mineral exploration and mining tenures issued by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME).

Generally, to mine in Queensland you must apply for a resource authority, unless you are responding to a call for tender. At QUREX, we recommend acquiring an Exploration permit for minerals (EPM). This permit may be held for a five year term and can be renewed, depending on performance. It is worth noting that different permits are required for coal exploration as opposed to all other minerals.

Holding an EPM permit enables you to perform more advanced exploration activities than simply fossicking. The methods you undertake to identify the quantity and quality of minerals with this permit, may encompass the use of machinery. An EPM allows you to prospect, conduct geological mapping, geophysical surveys, drilling, sampling and testing.

When applying for any Exploration permit, you must also apply for an environmental authority which will regulate environmental management of activities you intend to carry out; unless you meet the eligibility for small-scale mining. Small-scale mining applies to any activity conducted to source minerals, excluding coal, in an area of four sub-blocks or less. That means a maximum of 0.1ha can be disturbed at any time.

There are three environmental authority application options; standard, variation or site specific. These authorities are granted by the Department of Environment and Science (DES). We suggest you get in touch with the DES before lodging your EPM application, so you can clarify the information required for assessment.


Queensland is one of the world’s largest producers of lead (2nd), zinc (3rd), and bauxite (4th), and in Australia for silver (1st) and copper (2nd). This puts Queensland among the top producers in the world. The North West Queensland Mineral Province dominates base metal production and is a major gold and phosphate rock producer.

Queensland produces bauxite and silica sand and is highly prospective for base metals, gold, tin and tungsten. Industrial minerals produced in Queensland include bentonite, kaolin and ceramic clays, diatomite, dimension stone, dolomite, feldspar, gypsum, limestone, lump silica, magnesite, mineral sands (rutile, ilmenite and zircon), perlite, salt and zeolite.

To date, 84 projects by 57 companies have been completed, with 1 in 2 projects identifying mineralisation that increases both the inventory and investment attractiveness of Queensland.

Significant opportunities still await with large unexplored potential within the sedimentary basins and basement beneath cover.

Discover more about Queensland’s significant minerals mines and projects within Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines’ industry update,  which lists and maps out current mineral projects, including:

  • significant mineral mines
  • advanced base metals, other metals and gold and uranium projects
  • new resources and mineral intersection maps


Queensland has a rich endowment of high-quality coal, with an inventory estimated in 2002, at approximately 34 billion tonnes (Bt) (raw in-situ), identified by government and industry exploration. At that time, metallurgical (coking and pulverised coal injection or PCI) coals accounted for approximately 8.7 Bt of the inventory, of which about 4 Bt were considered potentially suitable for open-cut mining. These estimates are currently being reviewed with an expectation that the State’s coal inventory will have increased significantly, resulting from the increased level of coal exploration activity by private enterprise that occurred in Queensland since 2002.

The Bowen Basin contains almost all of the State’s hard coking coal, and is the most important coal-bearing province in Queensland. In addition to supplying all of the metallurgical coal currently mined within Queensland, mines operating within the basin also produce a wide range of thermal coal products, principally for export.

Learn more by viewing the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines Queensland Coal- mines and advanced projects industry update, which provides detailed listings, charts and maps, including:

  • new coal mines under construction or recently completed
  • Queensland coal – advanced export coal projects (Mining Lease either granted or under application)
  • Queensland coal exports by type
  • Queensland coal maps by region (Central Queensland, Western-central Queensland, South-east Queensland)
  • operating mines.


Queensland has sedimentary basins ranging in age from Precambrian to Tertiary with a variety of geological settings and histories.

In Queensland, the systematic exploration for conventional petroleum commenced in the early 1960s. Conventional petroleum exploration has resulted in the discovery of commercial accumulations in the Adavale Basin, the Bowen and Surat basins, and the Cooper and Eromanga basins.

Exploration for coal seam gas (CSG) commenced in the 1980s. Since the mid-1990s, CSG has grown to become the dominant source of gas in Queensland, comprising over 95% of the gas produced and over 99% of the remaining proved and probable gas reserves. Commercial production of CSG is sourced from the
Bowen and Surat basins and is the gas supply for the state’s export liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry based in Gladstone.

Outside of the producing CSG and key petroleum basins, many areas of the state remain largely under-explored.

Read more about the petroleum and coal seam gas industry in the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines’ Industry Update on Queensland petroleum and CSG, which details:

  • Queensland petroleum location map
  • Annual Queensland conventional petroleum and CSG wells drilled
  • CSG well locations
  • Queensland petroleum production summary
  • Queensland petroleum 2P reserves
  • Queensland CSG production
  • Queensland CSG 2P reserves
  • Queensland conventional gas and CSG annual production by basin
  • Drilling exploration success rates by basin


The Queensland Government recognises the pivotal role mining plays in the state’s economy now and into the future. Exploration success is critical to the sector’s sustainability. The provision of pre-competitive geoscience data through the Geological Survey of Queensland reduces uncertainty and ensures direct support for exploration activities. The Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) industry reports below provide an overview of current mining and exploration projects across the minerals, coal and petroleum and gas industries.