The QEC recently surveyed its members on the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis affecting the exploration industry. The survey results are summarised below:
Results – QEC Member Survey: COVID-19 impacts on explorers:
While the resources industry remains robust, Queensland’s explorers are facing particularly harsh challenges. Concerning, 81 percent of explorers surveyed anticipated having to decrease expenditure over the next three months, with over 67 percent anticipating a decrease of more than 25 percent.
Explorers cited immediate concerns as staff availability due to border restrictions, limited access to land, and unavailability of capital. Foreseeable impacts include a reduction of expenditure and resulting job losses, cancellation of (or significant delays to) field activities, and inability to meet work program commitments or comply with licence conditions.
Many operators are already deferring activities to reduce the risk of virus spread within their crews and the broader community. Health and safety of workers, along with commitments made to Government are top of mind:
“The health and safety of our staff and stakeholders is our top priority. We respect the border restrictions and orders to self-isolate. We would like to be granted relaxations on our work programs to avoid compromising the health of our staff and stakeholders.”
When QEC members were asked what measures would assist to support exploration activities their responses largely echoed that of QRC members. The top three responses were:
- Temporarily suspend strict compliance on work program timeframes and expenditures on tenures where exploration programs are delayed due to impacts on key staff
- Temporary relief of operational fees and charges such as tenure rents and Environmental Authority annual fees
- Loosened guidelines and increased funding for explorers, through initiatives such as the Collaborative Exploration Initiative
Other measures suggested by QEC members to support exploration activities included:
- Stop the clock on Exploration Licences – suspension of relinquishment schedule along with work commitments;
- Simplify variations where impact from COVID-19 is obvious and fast-track responses to alleviate uncertainty;
- Reduce mineral royalties or give royalty holiday for period of COVID-19 impacts;
- Greater assistance from Government obtaining land access;
- Increasing and fast tracking availability of Government held data. This is a great time for desktop reviews and studies as it can be done from a home office, and would provide a valuable product for industry in time for recovery from a depressed market;
- Simple things like making sure that any correspondence to a company is emailed as well as mailed. The shutdown of central offices of companies means that administrative compliance is difficult.
The QEC will continue to keep members updated on this evolving issue.