According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, mineral exploration was up 2.5% to A$718.4 million, seasonally adjusted, or up 1.2% to $754 million in original terms.
"Total Australian mineral exploration expenditure grew in every quarter in 2020, illustrating the strength of Australia's mineral exploration industry, and industry's commitment to finding new mines to create jobs, royalties and benefits for the local community," Association of Mining and Exploration Companies CEO Warren Pearce said.
"Nationally mineral exploration has had four straight quarters of growth in 2020 despite COVID-19."
A rise in exploration on existing deposits offset a drop in greenfields exploration.
"The fall in greenfield mineral exploration fits the seasonal trend with nearly all December quarters experiencing lower metres drilled due to the realities of the wet season in northern Australia," Pearce said.
Exploration for gold, base metals, iron ore and "other" rose, while coal exploration fell.
Metres drilled rose 4.1%, seasonally adjusted, but fell 1.6% in original terms.
Exploration in Victoria and South Australia jumped by more than 20%.
Queensland recorded the biggest fall of 7.8% for the December quarter.
The Queensland Resources Council noted exploration expenditure rose 23% for the year.
"These results are remarkable because just like every other industry, resources has been impacted by COVID-19," CEO Ian Macfarlane said.
Both the QRC and AMEC warned against complacency.
"Australia needs continued investment in mineral exploration to find the mines of the future that will create new jobs and provide ongoing benefits for Australia," Pearce said.