ABS exploration stats continue positive trend

EXPLORATION rose again in the September quarter, continuing a positive trend over 2018.
ABS exploration stats continue positive trend ABS exploration stats continue positive trend ABS exploration stats continue positive trend ABS exploration stats continue positive trend ABS exploration stats continue positive trend

Staff reporter

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the trend estimate for total mineral exploration increased 3.6% in the September quarter to A$561.4 million.

The largest contributor to the increase in the trend estimate was Western Australia, up 4.7%.

The current quarter estimate is 25.7% higher than the September quarter 2017 estimate.

The seasonally adjusted estimate for mineral exploration expenditure fell 1.7% to $547.4 million in the September quarter 2018.

The largest contributor to the fall this quarter was New South Wales, down 11.9%.

In original terms, mineral exploration expenditure rose 2.5% to $582.1 million in the September quarter.

Exploration on areas of new deposits rose 13% and expenditure on areas of existing deposits fell 2%.

In original terms, the largest increase by minerals sought came from expenditure on gold, up 8.5%.

The trend estimate for metres drilled rose 5.8% in the September quarter. The current quarter estimate is 22.5% higher than for the same time last year.

The seasonally adjusted estimate for metres drilled rose 7.1% in the September quarter 2018.

In original terms, metres drilled rose 6%. Drilling in areas of new deposits rose 7.2% and drilling in areas of existing deposits rose 5.8%.

"Mineral exploration is the lifeblood of the mining industry, greater exploration will lead to longer mine lives and future mines," Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) CEO Warren Pearce said. 

"The rise in exploration in Queensland and Western Australia lifted national mineral exploration but masked falls in New South Wales and Victoria." 

More than 60% of Australia's exploration occurred in WA.

"The September quarter also saw a record $174 million spend on gold exploration in Western Australia, 48% of the state's mineral exploration was spent on gold," Pearce said.

AMEC remains concerned about the high proportion - nearly two thirds - of exploration being conducted in brownfields locations.

"In the long term, this imbalance must be addressed if Australia is to find the future mines needed to sustain our industry," Pearce said.

On Friday, the WA government reported a spike in the number of applications for co-funded drilling grants under the state's Exploration Incentive Scheme.

"The federal government's Junior Mineral Exploration Incentive (JMEI), which was oversubscribed in June, is beginning to redress that disparity by attracting the much needed equity capital to increase greenfields mineral exploration," Pearce said.

"Each mine starts with mineral exploration, and the growth seen in this quarter will mean more jobs, and more mines in the future." 

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