Critical minerals win $100m following record Qld surplus

Brandon How

A new $100 million Critical Minerals Investment Fund will be established by the Queensland government following a record budget surplus.

The fund will be managed by the Queensland Investment Corporation. While equity investments are expected to be made in a similar way to other government funds, the final framework is still being determined with the state Treasury.

Individual projects will likely be able to receive between $2.5 million and $10 million in support, given they represent significant and sustained growth opportunities. It will open for applications in the first half of 2023.

Participating businesses will receive holistic support, including strategic advice and access to international networks. The fund intends to help mining and processing businesses scale to an internationally competitive level.

Queensland’s Budget update on Wednesday, formerly the mid-year fiscal and economic review, reported a $5.18 billion surplus driven by high coal and oil prices.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick

A further $150 million has also been earmarked for Common User Infrastructure projects in support of critical minerals developments.

Queensland Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment said the Critical Minerals Fund would “position Queensland to ride the wave of the next resources boom”.

“This will create more jobs as we harness north-west Queensland’s abundant critical mineral deposits to supply surging global demand for resources that are critical to manufacturing renewable energy technologies such as batteries, hydrogen electrolysers, and electric vehicles.

“This investment supports the delivery of the $62 billion Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan and the transformation of Queensland’s energy system to deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy to provide power for generations.”

Two initiatives promised under the plan are being funded through the Budget surplus. This includes $150 million Jobs Security Guarantee for workers at Queensland’s publicly owned coal-fired power stations and $200 million for its Regional Economic Futures program.

The budget surplus included was driven by high payments of coal royalties, including through three new progressive coal royalty tiers introduced this financial year.

These are expected to generate $2.95 billion worth of additional royalty revenue in financial year 2022-23 before declining to an additional $170 million the following financial year.

In a speech to the Queensland Media Club on Wednesday, Mr Dick said “we will allocate all the money generated by the new tiers to regional Queensland”.

Of the more than $5 billion budget surplus, $3 billion will be dedicated to a long-term asset held in the Consolidated Fund for future infrastructure programs in regional Queensland.

Mr Dick also said “these new royalties that were earned in regional Queensland will not leave regional Queensland” as he announced $1 billion would be invested in the state-owned corporations to support regional infrastructure projects.

The Resources Community Infrastructure fund is also being expanded with $120 million.

Beyond 2024-25, royalty revenues are expected by the Queensland Treasury to return to the levels forecasted in the 2022-23 Budget as coal prices return to longer run prices.

Mr Dick also announced that Queensland’s gross domestic product growth was 4.4 per cent for financial year 2021-22, which was greater than the 3.6 per cent growth at the national level. Treasury expects economic growth for 2022-23 and 2023-24 to be 2.5 per cent, down from the 2.75 per cent forecast made in June 2022.

The federal government is currently consulting on a 2023 refresh to the national Critical Minerals Strategy.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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