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Recommercialisation of abandoned mines

The Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan (QRIDP) sets out a 30-year vision for Queensland's resources industry: to be a resilient, responsible and sustainable resources industry that grows as it transforms.

The plan identifies 6 key focus areas where government and industry need to take action. One area is to grow and diversify the industry, with an action being to conduct a pilot program to investigate the recommercialisation of abandoned mines.

Mine recommercialisation is a growing area of interest. Technology used to recover minerals in closed mine sites is improving constantly, and investors are increasingly considering mining within a circular economy.

Queensland has around 120 complex abandoned mine sites that are managed by the department. Several of these sites have potential for recommercialisation due to their tailings storages, stockpiles or remaining in-ground resources.

Recommercialisation opportunity

Our pilot program to release an abandoned mine site for recommercialisation is underway.

Restricted Area 442 (RA 442) – which includes the Wolfram Camp mine, Bamford Hill mine and surrounding exploration areas – was released as a call for tenders for an exploration permit for minerals (MLR2023-1) in January 2023, and closed on 20 April 2023.

The site includes a former tungsten mine. Demand is growing globally for critical minerals like tungsten, which is used in many renewable technologies such as solar technology and wind turbine blades.

To help inform the tender release, we conducted a market sounding to gain industry feedback on the commercial viability for all or some of RA 442.

We also completed a comprehensive early release of high-quality information on the Wolfram Camp Mine and the surrounding RA 422 exploration area.

Tender awarded

EQ Resources Ltd has now been awarded the tender for resource exploration across the Wolfram Camp Mine, Bamford Hill Mine and surrounding exploration areas (MLR2023-1).

This is a critical next step in the pilot program to recommercialise the former Wolfram Camp mine.

EQ Resources must now meet any environmental, native title and other approval requirements before the exploration permit for minerals can be considered for grant under the Minerals Resources Act 1989.

Recommercialisation of abandoned mines is also a focus of Queensland’s recently released Critical Minerals Strategy (PDF, 2.1MB). Queensland has many of the critical minerals the world needs for a net zero emissions future, and the strategy will support companies looking to extract critical minerals from waste and tailings at existing and abandoned mines.

Further information

If you would like further information, email abandonedmines@resources.qld.gov.au

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Last updated
27 July 2023
Last reviewed
29 June 2023