Gold in Queensland

Queensland represents some 6 percent of Australia’s economic demonstrated gold resources at roughly 610 tonnes.

The Australian state of Queensland is perhaps best known for its sun, beaches and livable cities, but like all other Australian states it’s endowed with vast mineral resources and wide open spaces that make it an attractive investment opportunity the world over.

According to the Fraser Institute’s latest survey of mining companies, Queensland ranks ahead of famed Canadian mining jurisdictions such as British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, with only the province of Saskatchewan besting the sunshine state for investment attractiveness.

Just about anything you can shake a stick at is mined in Queensland, and though it may be best known for its coal exports (which netted AU$36 billion for the state in the 2018 to 2019 financial year), the state is dotted with active mines as well, with a modest collection that produce gold.

Many of the state’s gold mines are held in private hands, and overall Queensland represents some 6 percent of the economic demonstrated gold resources in the country at roughly 610 tonnes.

In 2018, Queensland’s mines produced 18 tonnes of gold, making it the third most productive state in Australia for the precious metal, behind New South Wales (39 tonnes) and well behind Western Australia, the king of gold production in the country, which produced 211 tonnes in the same year. The whole country produced 315 tonnes during the period.

Nevertheless, as an attractive jurisdiction with active gold mines in the southeast, the north and the western portions of the state, Queensland remains an interesting proposition for investors, with a state government that courts investment and that is known for pushing for more mining activity (especially in the coal sector) and diversification for its economy.

The state has many historical ties with the industry, with recent spikes in the gold price even spurring a surge in prospecting in regions with historical mining activity. Though it’s now inactive and has been for decades, the Mount Morgan mine in Central Queensland was the source of wealth that funded the beginnings of what became BP (LSE:BP,NYSE:BP).

Unlike other large states in Australia, Queensland benefits from transportation links, deep ports and population centres up and down its coastline, with roads and rail linking areas of interest to export markets throughout and adding to its appeal as a mining jurisdiction.

Read on to learn about some of the largest Queensland-focused gold companies by market cap.

1. Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN)

Market cap: AU$10.23 billion

Evolution Mining has interests in assets in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Canada, with two operating mines and an economic interest in the sunshine state.

Combined, Evolution Mining’s gold production from Queensland clocked in at over 230,000 ounces in the 2020 financial year from three operational mines (Mount Rawdon, Mount Carlton and Cracow), though the company divested from Cracow towards the end of the year.

Additionally, it holds an economic interest in the Ernest Henry mine, operated by mining giant Glencore (LSE:GLEN), which produced over 94,000 ounces in the same year. Together, Evolution Mining’s Queensland assets contributed roughly a third of its gold output for the last year.

2. Aeris Resources (ASX:AIS)

Market cap: AU$149.86 million

Aeris Resources is a copper- and gold-focused company, with its flagship gold asset — the Cracow gold mine — located in Southeast Queensland near the capital city of Brisbane.

As mentioned, Evolution Mining divested the Cracow mine in 2020; it produced 87,774 ounces of gold in its last year with the larger Australian company.

Aeris is optimistic for the future of the mine, which has produced 1.4 million ounces since mining began in 2004 — its current life is planned out to 2023, though the company believes it will have a longer future ahead with more exploration.

3. Citigold (ASX:CTO)

Market cap: AU$36.79 million

Citigold is the owner of mining operations in and around the city of Charters Towers, in Northern Queensland. The historical gold-mining region retains its reputation as an attractive prospect for gold, with the company reporting it is sitting on inferred resources of 11 million ounces of gold.

The company, which engages in exploration, development, processing and sale of gold, claims it is planning for production to ramp up to 220,000 ounces of gold per year, though this would require “significant” capital investment and planning.

INNdepth

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Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Australia took a stand against Facebook and Google earlier this year, and the move could have long-term implications for tech investors.

It was a ban that sent Australians wild and had the whole world watching.

Back in February, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stopped users in Australia from posting news in a week-long blackout, reacting to proposed legislation that would have forced the social media behemoth to pay publishers for content.

What prompted Facebook to "friend" Australia again, and what are the potential long-term implications of the squabble? Read on to learn what tech-focused investors in Australia should know about the situation.


Australia squares off against Facebook

On February 25 of this year, Australia's federal government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is aimed at ensuring that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for their content.

It stipulates that digital platforms such as Facebook and Google (both named in the documentation) must pay news outlets whose content they feature — for example, if content is shared on Facebook or shows up in Google search results. The idea is that this will help to sustain journalism in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Google didn't react well to the code, which was first introduced in 2020.

Google didn't make any moves after it passed, but Facebook quickly made it impossible for Australian users to share news content, and pages for both local and international news organisations went blank — a major concern given the COVID-19 and wildfire concerns that were circulating at the time.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scathing about Facebook's decision — which he ironically shared in a Facebook post — declaring the tech giant's actions "as arrogant as they were disappointing." He added, "These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Despite strong feelings from both Australia and Facebook, the dispute was resolved fairly quickly, with the country agreeing to make four amendments to the legislation and Facebook restoring Australian's access to news.

Implications for Big Tech and news organisations

Both Australia and Facebook have claimed victory in the dispute, with a Facebook representative saying the company will be able to decide if news appears on the platform — meaning it won't automatically have to negotiate with any news businesses. Changes were also made to the arbitration process.

Tech experts have pointed out that larger news companies may ultimately benefit from the changes, but smaller ones could be pushed to the side. Major publishers that have struck agreements with tech giants, such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC,OTC Pink:NNMTF), Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Guardian Australia, may be able to increase their market share while smaller independent players lose out.

A business that is in full support of the laws is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). During the conflict, President Brad Smith came out loudly in favour of Australia's law, and advised that his company is willing to step up with search engine Bing should Google and/or Facebook pull out of the Australian market.

"In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward. Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content," he said in a blog post.

"The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead."

Global reach and tech investor impact

Six months down the road from Australia's landmark legislation, it's tough to say what the long-term impact may be.

That said, market watchers do believe the country is part of a new precedent of forcing Big Tech into paying for journalism — something giants Facebook and Google are not used to.

Countries looking to pursue similar legislation include Canada, where Facebook agreed in May to pay 14 publishers to link to their articles on its COVID-19 and climate science pages, as well as other unspecified use cases. Canada is pursuing other avenues too. Meanwhile, in France, Google said it will pay publishers for news content after the country took up new EU copyright laws that make digital platforms liable for infringements.

For investors, the takeaway is perhaps that while companies like Facebook and Google may seem too big too fail, they too can fall subject to new regulations that can change how they do business. As nations around the world look to take back control from these mega companies, it's important to be aware of possible effects on their bottom lines.

Don't forget to follow @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Queensland is the 16th most attractive jurisdiction in the world, sneaking in above BC and the Yukon in Canada, and just behind New Mexico in the US.

Queensland is one of the top three Australian jurisdictions for copper.

While it's well behind South Australia, a behemoth in the country for resources and production, Queensland hosts some 12 percent of all known Australian copper deposits, level with its southern neighbour New South Wales.

A premier mining jurisdiction globally, Queensland is ranked third out of all Australian jurisdictions for mining investment attractiveness, according to the Fraser Institute. Globally, it's ranked as the 16th most attractive jurisdiction, sneaking in above BC and the Yukon in Canada, and just behind New Mexico in the US.


The state is renowned for its mining prowess in Australia, and is known as one of the resource states, with a large chunk of its economic heft coming from the mining industry and its operations across the vast state.

Overall, mining accounts for 11.7 percent of Queensland's economy, with coal and liquefied natural gas being the primary focus of output. Together, coal, gas and mineral exports account for over 80 percent of Queensland's exports, according to the state government.

Having said that, copper plays a large role, and Queensland is home to the second biggest producer of copper in Australia in the form of Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa mining complex in the northwest of the state. There, Glencore owns and operates the Enterprise and X41 mines.

Aside from Mount Isa, Glencore owns the nearby Ernest Henry copper mine. Combined, Glencore's Queensland operations produced 138,800 tonnes of copper in 2020 — accounting for a little over 10 percent of the company's global copper production. Glencore isn't listed on the ASX, but can be found on the LSE.

Besides the Mount Isa complex itself, there's also a handful of other operational mines in the northwestern portion of the state, although most of them are privately owned, such as the Capricorn copper project, which is a joint venture between EMR Capital and Lighthouse Minerals; it secured itself "prescribed project" status in 2017.

Other privately owned projects include Round Oak's Barbara project (in care and maintenance), Chinese-backed CuDECO's Rockland copper project (mothballed, CuDECO in liquidation) and Chinova's Osborne mine — which was originally set up by Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN,OTCQX:IVPAF). There's also the Balcooma mine, which Royal Gold (NASDAQ:RGLD) has copper royalties on, and the privately owned Mount Cuthbert mine.

Many of the mentioned projects ran into trouble in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting company operations.

All in all, Queensland has 13 operational copper mines, but as can be seen many are in private hands, making investment opportunities somewhat slim. Aside from previously mentioned Glencore operations, there's Red River Resources (ASX:RVR,OTC Pink:RRRDF), which owns the Thalanga operations near Charters Towers. Red River acquired Thalanga in 2014, and has been working to develop the legacy site back into a viable investment.

From the beginning of production in 2017, the operations have a lifespan of some 10 years, according to Red River, with further development and exploration options on the table. In its most recent quarterly report, Thalanga reported output of 3,086 tonnes of copper concentrate.

The remainder of the options on the table for investors are exploration focused, such as Copper Mountain Mining (ASX:C6C,OTC Pink:CPPMF) with interests in the Eva copper project, which is — unsurprisingly — in the northwest of the state, near the town of Cloncurry. Eva is in the development phase, with a feasibility study completed in early 2020 envisaging a 15 year mine life with an annual expected output of 106 million pounds of copper equivalent.

There's also Global Energy Metals (TSXV:GEMC,OTCQB:GBLEF), which like Glencore isn't on the ASX, but has interests in the Millenium cobalt-copper-gold project and others near Mount Isa — all in the exploration stage.

Aside from that, Strategic Energy Resources (ASX:SER) acquired exploration licences from Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM,OTC Pink:NCMGF) in May 2021 for licences around Mount Isa, and Zenith Minerals (ASX:ZNC) is exploring the Develin Creek copper-zinc project. Zenith recently divested from another copper project, Flannagans, in June 2021 by selling its interests to a private company for $450,000.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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