Australia’s Queensland Government has selected Metroof Minerals and Sojitz Coal as preferred tenders to explore for coal reserves in Bowen Basin.

The tenders were awarded under the state’s first annual exploration programme.

Following the awards, the two companies will have exploration rights to a total of 13,100ha in the region between Middlemount and Blackwater, where coal was mined historically.

Queensland mines minister Dr Anthony Lynham said: “Potentially, these tenders could be our next generation of coal development in an area with a history of successful coal development for export and electricity generation.

“This exploration authority continues Metroof’s diversification into the Queensland market.”

“The Bowen Basin contains the majority of Queensland’s coking, metallurgical and thermal coal reserves which are ripe for export.”

The exploration authority granted to Metroof covers 86km², 60km south-east of Middlemount, while Sojitz Coal has secured rights over 45km².

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By GlobalData

According to Metroof, the latest tender adds to the group’s existing exploration rights on the eastern edge of the Bowen Basin.

Metroof Minerals director Ken Broadfoot said: “This exploration authority continues Metroof’s diversification into the Queensland market.

“Long-term, should this exploration authority prove probable our interest is to convert this into mining activity, similar to our existing operations in other parts of Australia.”

The tender is expected to allow Sojitz Coal to further strengthen its portfolio comprising metallurgical coal and the development of close to surface coking coal deposits in Central Queensland.

The state government is set to open another round of minerals exploration tenders later this month over a 1,107km² area.