No mining exploration will be allowed in and around urban areas of Queensland, including regional centres such as Ipswich, Toowoomba, Beaudesert, Rockhampton, Mackay and St George Queensland, after a new policy was considered by the Queensland Cabinet.


An Exploration Restricted Area would be declared over land bound by the South East Queensland Regional Plan as well as other regional centres and towns with a population of 1,000 or more, effective immediately.


The restriction will cover existing exploration permits as well as future permits in these areas.


The announcement means there will be no more exploration activity on urban land or within a two kilometre buffer of urban land. The restrictions are complimentary to the existing Strategic Cropping Legislation.


Premier Anna Bligh said the Government would take feedback on the draft legislation to enshrine the changes which is expected to be in place later this year.


“Both the mining industry and local governments have previously indicated their support to resolve the uncertainty for residents on this issue,” she said.


“These consistent restrictions are a sensible approach but it is possible that some communities may wish to remove the restrictions on mining in some part of their urban area.


“Under the framework, the Minister will consider representations from local Mayors where a Council resolution has been passed in favour of ‘opting out’ of the framework for part of their urban area.”


“Exploration permits for industrial minerals (those used in the building industry) will continue to be granted, following compliance with existing strict guidelines, regulations and environmental standards.


“The legislation preventing development in urban areas will be in place later this year but companies that want to relinquish the relevant sub-blocks of their tenure before then will have an incentive to do so.


“Companies that voluntarily relinquish tenure now will have it accredited towards their next relinquishment obligations.”


The changes will be enshrined by amendments to the Mineral Resources Act 1989 to prevent existing exploration tenure holders from undertaking any exploration activities in and around all urban areas across Queensland.


Under the Petrolueum and Gas Act, no Authorities to Prospect will be issued over areas covered by the Restricted Area.