Greenfield Mineral Exploration Rises in December Quarter   

5 March 2019

The Australian Bureau of Statistics published the Mineral and Petroleum December 2018 Quarterly Statistics yesterday, with total Australian mineral exploration expenditure falling 0.3% (-$1.6m) to $582.8m for the December 2018 quarter.

The decrease in expenditure was matched by a fall in metres drilled which fell 10.7%. With Greenfields metres drilled falling 8.9% and brownfields metres drilled falling 12.3%.
Greenfield mineral exploration expenditure continued its fourth straight quarter of growth, rising 4.5% ($10.0m); brownfields mineral exploration expenditure fell 3.3% (-$12.1m).

2018 was a stronger year for mineral exploration with total exploration expenditure growing by 19.3%. Total exploration grew by 15% in Western Australia, 19% in Queensland, 25% in the Northern Territory, 23% in New South Wales, 39% in South Australia, 40% in Victoria while in Tasmania grew by 1.3%.

“According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there was more mineral exploration expenditure in 2018 calendar year than in 2017 in every single State and Territory of Australia,” says Mr Warren Pearce, Chief Executive Officer, Association of Mining and Exploration Companies.

In the 2018 calendar year, greenfield mineral exploration expenditure grew by 30% ($239m) to $800m, and brownfield mineral exploration expenditure grew by 13% ($180m) to $1,373m. Greenfields remains 40% of expenditure, while Brownfields mineral exploration is 60% of total expenditure.
In the 2018 calendar year, total metres drilled grew by over a million metres to 9,799,000m.

Nationally, gold was the most sought mineral with $891m spent on mineral exploration in the 2018 calendar year, a 15% growth on 2017.

“Australia needs greater greenfields mineral exploration, and the growth in mineral exploration expenditure and metres drilled for the 2018 calendar year reflect the returning strength of the exploration sector.”

“While the calendar year figures are strong, the numbers for the most recent December 2018 quarter are more cautionary. There was a fall in all categories quarter on quarter other than greenfields mineral exploration expenditure which rose by $10m.”

 “The Resources 2030 Taskforce Report, and the recent bipartisan response, indicates the understanding that Australia needs greater mineral exploration in the future,” said Mr Pearce.