About the Queensland exploration program

Exploration in Queensland is critical for a strong and globally competitive resources sector. It is a key driver of private sector investment, generating economic growth and jobs for Queenslanders.

Identifying and releasing new land for exploration supports growth, enabling the resources industry to make new discoveries and assess whether resources can be economically recovered and mined.

In Queensland, land is released for exploration via a competitive tender process or land can be applied for by direct application, depending on the type of resource to be explored.

Currently only non-coal minerals exploration and exploration for geothermal resources is open to the direct application process. Areas of land for other resources are identified and nominated by resources companies through an expression of interest (EOI) process, then assessed and released through competitive tender as part of the Queensland Exploration Program (QEP).

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors play a significant role in the identification and release of exploration areas via competitive tender in Queensland. Strong ESG credentials are becoming increasingly important to both consumers and investors.

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2023 Queensland Exploration Program

The 2023 Queensland Exploration Program (QEP) provides a forward schedule of land release tenders for petroleum and gas, and coal. Details are available on the location of each exploration tender area and the timing of the competitive tender process. Information such as how and when to submit a tender, and other legislative requirements will be included in the tender documents.

The EOI process to nominate areas of land for exploration for the 2023 QEP closed at 5pm (AEST) on 24 February 2023.

We have notified landholders, communities, First Nations people and others who may be affected by the areas of land to be released in the 2023 QEP and will continue to engage with stakeholders throughout the competitive tendering process.

Download the current land release schedule

Improvements to the QEP process

While the QEP land release schedule assists resources companies plan their investment and exploration activities, and communities receive notification and advice about the exploration areas, a recent review identified the need for improvements including:

  • greater clarity about the land release process, decisions and timings to help the resources industry to make informed exploration decisions.
  • timely and meaningful engagement with communities who are, or may be, affected by exploration and mining activities.

The 2023 QEP incorporates some preliminary changes as a result of the review, such as more detail about the land release process and a comprehensive guide to support making a tender submission, while we continue to work on longer-term improvements.

Improving Queensland's land release process is an action under the Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan – our 30-year plan for the resources industry.

The EOI and the tendering process

The EOI process enables industry to identify and nominate areas of land for release via the QEP that they are interested in exploring.

Competitive tendering provides a fair and transparent process that ensures the responsible management of Queensland's valuable resources, by granting exploration rights to companies that are best able to meet the requirements for exploring and developing these resources.

Prior to the release of the QEP and subsequent tendering processes, directly affected stakeholders (including landholders, Traditional Owners and local governments), community groups and peak representative groups are notified about the exploration areas to be released. This ensures stakeholders are aware of the areas and can prepare for participation in future exploration approval processes and negotiations.

There are 3 main stages before any exploration activities can commence over land that will be released via competitive tender:

  1. Identify areas of land for exploration
    • Industry submits EOIs identifying areas of land for potential exploration.
    • The department assesses EOIs in consultation with relevant agencies and stakeholders, and land release areas and a tender schedule is announced.
  2. Complete a competitive tendering process
    • A call for tenders is opened and tender bids are submitted.
    • Tender bids for each area are assessed and a decision to award a preferred tenderer is made. Stakeholders are notified of the tender outcome.
  3. Put appropriate resource tenures in place
    • The preferred tenderer can progress a resource authority application over the tender area. The preferred tenderer must meet environmental, native title and any other approval requirements before they can be considered for the grant of an exploration authority.

When an exploration authority has been granted, generally the preferred tenderer must complete land access arrangements and any other approval requirements prior to commencing on-ground exploration activities.

Previous exploration programs

Exploration opportunities in Queensland have been released via the QEP since 2016. Read more about previous exploration programs.

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