A NEW map issued by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines shows the Bundaberg hinterland is almost covered by areas where mining exploration permits have been granted.
But a spokesman for the Gasfields Commission pointed out that not all exploration permits resulted in a mine or even exploration.
The issue has become a contentious one for the Bundaberg region, with the Lock The Gate movement calling for more testing on the effects of mining coal and gas in the region.
The outspoken group is raising money to ensure baseline testing of air and water quality before any mining goes ahead.
According to the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, 22 permits have been granted for companies to explore for minerals in the Bundaberg Regional Council area.
Another 19 have been granted for coal exploration, and four for petroleum and gas.
According to the department, exploration permits are issued for determining what minerals and gases exist in a particular area of land and the quality and quantity of the deposits, to improve the state's knowledge and understanding of the resource base and to determine if it is economically viable to extract and commercialise the resource.
These permits allow a holder to undertake exploration activities including prospecting and surveying, sampling water, rock and soil, drilling, ancillary environmental studies, conducting geophysical surveys and soil testing.
The department says the grant of an exploration permit does not always result in "on ground" exploration activities being undertaken on all land comprising the permit; exploration results may result in the holder deciding to focus activities in only certain parts of the permit area.
John Cotter, chairman of the GasFields Commission - a statutory body set up by the State Government, said one of the key roles of the commission was to ensure communities had factual and relevant information needed to help better understand onshore gas exploration or resource activity in their region.
Mr Cotter said the government provided a lot of this information on petroleum and mineral resource tenure holders via the Queensland Globe a free online spatial information portal that is readily accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
"However, exploration and resource companies also have a vital responsibility to effectively engage and communicate with landholders and communities to ensure they have the full range of information as these projects are progressed.
"Exploration is an often long and expensive activity with no guarantee of success in finding an economically viable resource, but they should use this phase to also start to develop their social licence to operate.
"Explorers create the first impressions for a resource project and it is the level and tone of this initial engagement with the community that can have a real impact on the understanding and support or otherwise for the project in the long term."
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