Exploration on the rise in Australia
Mining News Pro - Total mineral expenditure in Australia was up 18.5% in the June quarter, compared with the previous corresponding period, new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has shown.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (Amec) said on Monday that the data showed confidence within the industry, and that the resources sector was committed to finding new mines to deliver jobs, royalties and benefits for the local communities.

Mineral exploration expenditure rose 11.91%, or A$72.7-million, in the June quarter 2020, with brownfield exploration rising 17.45%, or A$67.5-million, to A$454.3-million and greenfield expenditure rising 2.37%, or A$5.3-million, to A$229-million.

Meters drilled for greenfield exploration grew 5.57% while brownfield exploration rose 13.67%. The largest increase by minerals sought came from expenditure on gold, up 11.54% to A$304.4-million, and iron-ore, up 30.73% to A$98.7-million.

“Today’s figures have held up against the tough Covid-19 induced financial environment for mineral exploration companies around the world. They show that companies are finding ways to fund exploration and support stronger growth in the industry,” said Amec CEO Warren Pearce.

“Australia needs continued investment in mineral exploration to find future mines and unlock new jobs and growth potential.”

Total expenditure rose in Western Australia by 12.34%, New South Wales by 3.63%, in Queensland by 29.56% and Victoria by 11.52%. However, Northern Territory fell by 3.94%, South Australia by 9.68% and Tasmania by 13.04%.

Pearce said that the expenditure increases in Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria could be largely attributed to increases in gold exploration. Western Australia also had a large increase in iron-ore, while Queensland also experienced significant increases in copper and selected base metals.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) on Monday said that the industry was able to use its existing strong safety culture and safety systems to rapidly respond and put strict protocols in place at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, which ensured that the Australian minerals industry, including exploration – continued to operate throughout the global pandemic to support jobs, communities and economic recovery while contributing company tax and royalties to help fund doctors, nurses, police and hospitals.

“Attracting new exploration investment is essential to Australia’s post-Covid economic recovery,” said MCA CEO Tania Constable.

“It directly provides jobs for thousands of Australian geologists, drilling crews and laboratory workers every year and is vital for discovering the mines that will produce minerals critical to global economic progress such as battery minerals, base metals and rare earth elements.

“Despite decades of exploration, Australia remains under-explored, particularly in remote and regional areas. As the stewards of Australia’s considerable mineral wealth, governments have a key role to play in attracting greater exploration and mining investment.”

Constable said that increased funding for pre-competitive geoscience programmes like Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future would help unlock mineral wealth to create new jobs and deliver long-term benefits for all Australians.