Oil shale

Development of a well-managed oil shale industry will help Queensland position itself as a technology leader in the sustainable development of a nationally and globally important new industry.

Proposals to develop oil shale deposits

The Queensland Government considers that the moratorium on the McFarlane oil shale deposit should remain, given the potential impact on the Whitsunday region, key infrastructure, and proximity to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the Goorganga Wetlands.

The provisions in the Mineral Resources Act 1989 on the moratorium will therefore stay in force and a review of this moratorium will be undertaken prior to its current expiration in August 2028.

In other cases, the Queensland Government will consider the development of oil shale deposits subject to the merits of the proposal—including the results of thorough environmental assessments—on a project-by-project basis.

This will not include projects seeking to use in situ gasification methods to extract oil shale, which are prohibited in Queensland.

Project proponents who wish to proceed past the exploration phase will be required to develop proposals that are:

  • well conceived
  • adequately financed
  • able to meet strict environmental standards
  • committed to addressing community expectations.

The Queensland Government will expect and require all oil shale proponents to:

  • identify and minimise technical and environmental risks, and community concerns, associated with a proposal
  • develop and implement effective mitigation measures including, for example, the use of pollution abatement technologies
  • undertake comprehensive monitoring of the process, its emissions, wastes and impact on the community in the environmental setting
  • provide a suitable financial assurance to deal with potential remediation.

This will ensure that project proponents demonstrate both the efficacy of the oil shale technology, as well as their capacity to meet high environmental standards and community expectations.

Trials of retorting or extraction technologies

New oil shale proposals are likely to involve trials of unproven or potentially experimental retorting or extraction technologies. The pathway for considering these proposals will be via a trial and then a staged approach towards full commercialisation.

At each stage of proposed development, the risks and proposed management approaches will be identified, considered and assessed via an environmental impact statement (EIS) – under either the Environmental Protection Act 1994 or the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971.

The EIS will ensure that the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of oil shale projects are identified and assessed, and that adverse impacts are avoided, minimised or sufficiently mitigated.

In cases where an oil shale technology has been proven in Queensland, the requirement to proceed through trials prior to commercialisation will be removed. However, an EIS will still be required for all oil shale developments.

In all cases, the Minister for Resources and Critical Minerals retains the power to refuse the grant of tenure if it is in the public interest to do so.

Exploration and investment resources

Queensland's resources industries

Investment information

  • Queensland exploration and investment resource package is a comprehensive guide for potential explorers and investors. For a free copy, contact the Geological Survey of Queensland.
  • Read about investing in Queensland mining for information on investment support, exploration opportunities and current tenders.

Tenure information

Maps, data and publications

Exploration reports

Holders of resource authorities are required to submit a range of statutory reports on their activities through the GSQ Lodgement Portal. After a period of confidentiality, these reports and data are made publicly available through the GSQ Open Data Portal.

Contact us

Contact the Geological Survey of Queensland for geoscience, exploration and investment information.