The WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) said explorers had lodged 2575 program of work applications in 2017, a 40% increase on the previous year.
The permit is needed before an explorer does any "ground disturbing" activities.
The 2017 figure was not a surprise considering the battery metals rush and the price strength of gold.
The Pilbara was a hotspot because of its lithium promise, and the market was briefly excited about nuggety gold deposits thanks to Novo Resources and its engaging marketing.
The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies praised the state government, noting it "finalised over 98% of all [programme of work] tenure applications in the target timeline".
Despite this, the industry said more could be done to help explorers during this busy time.
"Today's announcement reinforces a mounting body of evidence that the Western Australian mining and mineral exploration industry is growing and confidence is returning," AMEC CEO Warren Pearce said.
"Today's statistics show that DMIRS has the capacity to reduce approvals timeframes, and support industry to create new jobs, revenues for local communities and royalties for the state."