The Queensland mining industry is a leader in the international market, offering world class production of minerals and energy resources. Major mining operations are located throughout the state, with the government also opening up large areas of unexplored land to encourage investment in emerging and existing commodities.

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.


The Queensland resources and infrastructure map is a helpful tool to discover at a glance Queensland’s major resource basins, projects and infrastructure locations.


The Queensland Mineral, Coal and Petroleum Operations and Resources Map is a detailed map to zoom in and find the location of Queensland’s major resource basins, projects and infrastructure locations.


The Queensland Globe is an online interactive mapping tool for viewing physical, geographical and spatial data.

Access over 600 spatial data layers on Queensland roads, rail, property, topography, mining and exploration, land valuations, land parcel information, water levels and more.

Features include:

  • Access to real-time spatial data – anywhere, anytime – through your computer, tablet or smartphone web browser.
  • New measuring tools and the ability to save, share and download maps and searches.
  • Pinpoint your location and access data when in the field.
  • Browse information about single parcels of land, including a property’s official annual valuation, closest public transport routes and more.
  • Explore pre-set topics of interest for faster search results.
  • Create multiple places of interest to explore a range of locations or different data layers.
  • Add and save your own data, or share what you’ve discovered with others.



MinesOnlineMaps makes it easy to identify resource opportunities across the state by letting you view, query, analyse, extract and print spatial information about the mining and resources industry. Access is free and no registration is required.

Features inlcude:

  • geological and geophysical data
  • information on exploration and production authorities
  • information on geographic constraints and barriers
  • native title information
  • links to company exploration reports
  • access to data from QSpatial
  • access to web map services.


The Queensland Spatial Catalogue is a Queensland Government initiative to a geospatial portal that allows public access to Queensland Government spatial data and information.

This service is a Queensland Government initiative to provide improved public access to a variety of spatial and associated data. You can discover, display, select and download or order data over an area of interest in selected formats, including map coverage data, image data and text file data.

You can search for downloadable datasets, pre-packaged datasets, live data and maps (web services), spatially related applications, Queensland Globe KML files and services and offline data.

The Queensland Spatial Catalogue lists spatial data holdings for the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, as well as spatial data contributed by many other departments.


The Queensland Government recognises the pivotal role mining plays in the State’s economy now and into the future. With exploration success 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.