Prospecting in Queensland just got much more expensive

The Australian reports the Queensland government is going after speculative prospecting by what the state treasurer termed two-dollar shell mining companies, slapping the industry with $375 million in additional fees.

Under the radical new rules competitive cash-bidding auctions for mining exploration permits – primarily for coal – will replace the flat $1,030 application fee in force currently.

The Australian reports:

"What we see at the moment is because of the resources boom a lot of two-dollar companies have come into the range — or shell companies, they're out there trying to get resources permits because it's easy for them to get a grant and then try to talk it up on the stock exchange," Mr Fraser [State Treasurer] said.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the reaction in the industry:

Queensland Resources Council said the charges would hit junior miners most. The chief executive of the lobby group, Michael Roche, said the $370 million in new charges by 2014-15 was "predicated on a flawed assumption that minerals and energy companies are bottomless cash pits".

The new charges and levies in the state come on top of a carbon tax which will force Australia’s top 500 polluting companies to pay a tax of $24.50/tonne on carbon emissions from July 2012 and a new minerals resource rent tax (MRRT) set at an effective 22.5% rate on the so-called super-profits of the extractive industries.