Mineral exploration expenditure surged in the September quarter, new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has found.
“Nationally, mineral exploration expenditure for the September 2021 quarter was 32%, or A$237.5-million higher than September 2020. The last year has seen a period of significant growth for industry, despite the many challenges faced due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies’ (Amec’s) CEO Warren Pearce said.
As mineral exploration continues to rise, it is encouraging to see the strength of our industry in supporting Australia’s recovery from the effects of Covid-19”.
Total mineral exploration expenditure grew 7.7%, or A$70.4-million to A$982.4-million in the September 2021 quarter compared to the previous June quarter in original terms. Greenfield expenditure rose 11.5%, or A$35.6-million to A$346.1-million in the period, and brownfields expenditure also increased 5.8%, or A$34.8-million to A$636.3-million.ADVERTISEMENT
Metres drilled for greenfield exploration grew 4.25%, while brownfield exploration fell slightly by 1.7%, and there was strong increase of expenditure across nearly all minerals sought in Australia, with silver and lead up 30% or A$4.5-million, mineral sands, up 30% or A$2.8-million, and uranium, up 31% and A$1.2-million, showing particularly strong growth.
“The September 2021 quarter shows that greenfield exploration remains a priority for Industry. The ongoing growth in greenfield expenditure demonstrates Industry’s commitment to discovering mines of the future. In particular, the Northern Territory has had a strong quarter, with greenfields exploration increasing 46%, or A$4.7-million from the June 2021 quarter. Queensland and New South Wales also performed well with growth of 44%, or A$16.9-million and 43%, or A$10.3-million respectively, compared to last quarter,” said Pearce.
This quarter, total expenditure grew in New South Wales by 5%, Queensland by 26%, Western Australia grew by 8%, Tasmania by 87% and Northern Territory by 1%. Victoria suffered a fall of 11%, while South Australia fell 26%.
The expenditure increases in Queensland can be largely attributed to increases in exploration of silver and lead, which was up 52% and selected base metals, which was up 25%. In New South Wales, copper experienced a significant increase of 22%, while Western Australia continues to represent the majority of Australia’s mineral exploration activity, at 65.6%, and set new records for gold exploration with A$309-million and a staggering A$644.3-million across all minerals expended in the quarter.
“The strong rise in greenfield mineral exploration in the September quarter is extremely positive, as companies seek to discover the mines of the future. The development of these mines will create jobs and bring wide economic and social benefits to our country,” said Pearce.
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) said the data painted an optimistic picture for Queensland’s resources sector, which has continued to surge ahead for both petroleum and minerals.
“The exploration expenditure data is up 5% higher than the previous 12 months and 40% higher than the same period two years ago, so it’s another strong result for Queensland,” QRC CEO Ian Macfarlane said.
“These latest figures show our explorers have managed to continue to expand their exploration programs in spite of Covid-19’s impact on the availability to recruit skilled workers and source equipment from overseas and interstate.
“This demonstrates the continuing strength and ingenuity of the resources sector, which benefits every Queenslander in terms of job opportunities and our industry’s ongoing contribution to the state’s economy.”
The Queensland Exploration Council chairperson Kim Wainwright said the state’s exploration industry has shown resilience through the pandemic.
“It’s welcome news that the exploration industry is forging ahead in spite of the challenges of Covid-19,” Ms Wainwright said.
“Over the past 12 months, Queensland petroleum exploration expenditure hit A$296-million, which is 8% higher than the same period in 2020 and 58% higher than 2019.
“Queensland minerals exploration expenditure hit A$427-million over the past 12 months, which is 3% higher than the same period in 2020 and 29% more than 2019.” EDITED BY: Creamer Media Reporter