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Australia exploration results: It’s costing more to do less

4th June 2024

By: Creamer Media Reporter

     

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Mineral exploration expenditure in Australia reached A$910.4-million in March, figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Tuesday show.

Expenditure on greenfield exploration to discover new deposits decreased by 23.1% to A$278.6-million, while brownfield exploration decreased 16% to A$631.8-million.

This, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (Amec), commenting on the ABS numbers, says is typical of the March quarter. The wet season restricts exploration activity across much of Northern Australia during the first few months of the year.

The metres drilled for greenfield exploration fell by 33.4% to 496.4 km and brownfield metres drilled decreased by 21.1% to 1 502.8 km.

Total metres drilled decreased by 24.5% to 1 999.3 km.

The differences between the fall in expenditure and the fall in metres drilled show the impact of rising costs on exploration.

“Following December’s record quarter, a new March record shows a 2% year-on-year growth. However, more accurately it portrays the impact of rising costs within the exploration sector,” said Amec CEO Warren Pearce.

South Australia saw its highest value of greenfield expenditure, at A$47.2-million, eclipsing the previous high set last quarter at A$44.4-million. However, most of this can be attributed to the effort to define the copper resource at Oak Dam. Without that investment, the rest of the South Australian sector looks much weaker.

Queensland recorded an overall expenditure decrease of 23% to A$127-million, and South Australia’s overall expenditure decreased 10.7% to A$71-million. Expenditure fell in Victoria this quarter by 1.7%, Tasmania by 11.8%, and New South Wales by 11.3%.

Western Australia saw an overall decline across all mineral categories, but held up well against the 2023 March quarter, with the exception of nickel, which fell substantially year-on-year from A$68.3-million to A$42.7-million.

Challenges faced by Western Australia’s struggling nickel sector, have flowed through to nickel exploration.

“Continually strong investment to discover critical and base metals, highlights the importance of government co-funded investment programmes, and the diversity of investor demands.”

“Mineral exploration remains strong, but the impacts of inflation are clearly being felt,” said Pearce.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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