Australian exploration down 16% in March quarter

6th June 2017 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

PERTH ( – New Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data has shown that mineral exploration expenditure, in original terms, fell by 16.2% during the March quarter, to A$337.6-million.

Exploration in greenfield deposits fell by 21.4%, or by A$28-million, and expenditure on brownfield areas fell by 13.8%, or A$37.5-million.

In original terms, the largest decrease by minerals sought came from expenditure on gold, which was down 14.9%, or A$27.1-million.

In original terms, metres drilled decreased by 13.7%, with drilling in areas of new deposits falling by 26.6%, while drilling in areas of existing deposits fell 5.6%.

Meanwhile, the ABS reported that the trend estimate for total petroleum exploration expenditure rose 2.2% or A$7.2-million, to A$339.6-million in the March quarter.

Exploration expenditure on production leases decreased by 4.1%, or A$1.2-million, and exploration expenditure on all other areas rose 2.3%, or A$6.9-million.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (Amec) on Tuesday reiterated the importance of reversing the downward trend in greenfield and brownfield mineral exploration.

“Lifting greenfield mineral exploration is vital to discovering the mines of tomorrow,” Amec CEO Simon Bennison said.

“There are vast areas of Australia that have never been explored, or are underexplored and still highly prospective. The economic opportunities from discovering new mines to replace those that are coming to an end are enormous. But, discovery will come from drilling holes in the ground.”

Bennison said that the government’s decision to axe the Exploration Development Incentive from the budget removed an incentive designed to increase investment in greenfield mineral exploration in the long term, and effectively increased the after-tax cost of exploration by 30% for many Australian junior greenfield explorers.

“Economic growth and jobs are at stake for future generations of Australians for what is a small and sensible investment,” said Bennison.