Exploration spend falls in March quarter

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6th June 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia


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PERTH ( – New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has shown that mineral and exploration expenditure fell during the March quarter while petroleum exploration expenditure rose.

In original terms, Australian mineral exploration fell by 14.9%, or A$156.4-million, to A$891.8-million in the March 2023 quarter, with greenfield exploration falling by 22.2%, or A$78.4-million, to A$274.6-million.

Brownfield exploration fell 11.2%, or $78-million, to A$617.2-million.

“Australian mineral exploration had a record March quarter in 2023, $36.5-million higher than the previous record of March 2012. The fall in statistics original terms is seasonal, as drilling programmes in Northern Australia are delayed due to the wet season,” Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (Amec) CEO Warren Pearce said.

“Nationally, gold exploration fell by 20.5%, the largest fall for any mineral type, falling by A$73.6-million to A$285.7-million.”

“South Australia bucked the national seasonal trend with mineral exploration rising 23.5% in the March quarter to A$62-million led by the hunt for copper which was up 18% to A$32-million”.

“Victorian mineral exploration also rose by 10% to A$47-million, driven by modest growth in gold exploration. New South Wales mineral exploration declined slightly down 10% to A$77-million, with gold exploration falling 15% to A$16-million,” Pearce added.

“As normal for March, quarter on quarter, mineral exploration tumbled by a third in the Northern Territory, down 33% to A$38.4-million, with the wet season making it hard to get rigs on the ground.”

“Queensland exploration fell by 25% quarter on quarter to A$114.9-million, with exploration for copper down 24% to A$31-million, and selected base metals slipping lower, down 30% to A$40.7-million.”

“While Western Australian mineral exploration fell quarter on quarter to A$542-million, it was still higher than the March 2022 figures of A$526-million. Gold exploration fell by 24%, or A$64-million, to A$200-million.”

Tasmanian mineral exploration followed the national trend and fell by A$1-million to A$10-million in March 2023.

The metres drilled in the March quarter reflect the fall in expenditure, down 11.9%, or 338 km, to 2 513 km.  Greenfield drilling fell by 20% and brownfield drilling by 8.7%.

“Mineral exploration remains historically strong, with a record March quarter,” said Pearce.

"While the statistics report the general strength in mineral exploration, they mask the significant slowdown taking place in the investment environment, with industry now facing stronger headwinds.

"Despite this, mineral explorers are continuing to push ahead with exploration programmes,” he added.

Meanwhile, petroleum exploration saw a seasonally adjusted rise of 16.3%, or A$34.3-million, to A$244.4-million. Onshore exploration spend increased by 12.5% to A$155.3-million, while offshore exploration rose by 23.6% to A$89.1-million.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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