EXPLORATION & DEVELOPMENT

WA dominates as mineral exploration spending remains strong

QUARTERLY statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday show that while Australian petroleum fell sharply for the June quarter, spending on mineral exploration was up to more than A$1 billion.

WA dominates as mineral exploration spending remains strong

Seasonally adjusted mineral exploration spending was up 4.5% to $1.27 billion, a rise of $44.5 million.
 
The exploration data shows a rise of 23% rise in spending to $1.05 billion in original terms, with iron ore exploration recording the largest rise, up 44% to $201 million.
 
Nickel and cobalt also recorded a strong 24% increase to $80 million, demonstrating the continued expected demand for Australia's battery minerals. 
 
Nationwide, spending on existing deposits was up 24.5% to $741 million, and greenfields exploration spending was up 20% to $313 million. 
 
Greenfield exploration expenditure reached a record high in 2021 of $1.21 billion.
 
Since the last quarter, total national expenditure has increased by 23%, and expenditure has increased across all jurisdictions with New South Wales increasing by 14%, Victoria by 1%, Queensland by 9%, South Australia by 16%, Western Australia by 28%, Tasmania by 92%, and the Northern Territory by 48%.
 
WA swallowed the lion's share of cash with $475 million in brownfields spending, plus $198 million on greenfields spending. Gold investment in WA alone was $299 million.
 
Queensland ($130 million) and New South Wales ($87 million) were in second and third place as favoured destinations, including just $61 million spent on coal exploration.
 
Tasmania was in last place, with just $12.5 million spent.
 
Seasonally adjusted drilling meterage fell 4% drilled to 2969km.
 
Total metres drilled were up 17% to 3117.6km, with a 21% jump in existing deposits to 2205km and a 10% boost in drilling of greenfield areas as 912km.
 
Association of Mining and Exploration Companies CEO Warren Pearce said the minerals sector had remained resilient throughout the COVID-19-era, but challenges remain.
 
"Whilst staffing shortages have significantly impacted drilling programmes across the nation for the quarter, heightened demand for drill rigs and exploration drilling remains," Pearce said.
 
While industry is being impacted by labour and skill shortages, Pearce said AMEC's members believe the mining and investment cycle still had a long way to run.

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