Miners criticise exploration cash bids
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BRISBANE, Feb 13 AAP
February 13 2013, 1:55PM
Miners say the Queensland government's decision to auction coal, petroleum and gas exploration rights is morally dangerous and will hurt small operators.
A public hearing into the changes, which were announced in October, was held at parliament on Wednesday.
Queensland Resources Council boss, Michael Roche, told the hearing the former NSW Labor government brought in a similar process, which raised community concern that exploration rights were for sale to the highest bidder.
"Accepting payments generates moral hazard, compromising the government's ability to be seen to impartially regulate these projects," Mr Roche said.
The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) says the bidding process wouldn't be fair, as smaller operators may not be able to compete against the mining giants.
Chief executive Simon Bennison says "greenfield" exploration is overwhelmingly carried out by mid-tier or small companies.
If exploration leases go to the highest, not necessarily the best, bidders, larger operators could stockpile them.
"The mid-tier miners have a greater impetus to develop projects and therefore pass on economic and social benefits to the people of Queensland," he said.