NT racks up highest-ever exploration spend

CHAMPAGNE corks are popping at the Wedding Cake* with the Northern Territory government celebrating the territory’s highest-ever quarterly mineral exploration spend.
NT racks up highest-ever exploration spend NT racks up highest-ever exploration spend NT racks up highest-ever exploration spend NT racks up highest-ever exploration spend NT racks up highest-ever exploration spend

The Northern Territory's parliament house.

Mineral exploration expenditure in September rose 30% to $74.4 million compared to the same period last year. It eclipses the previous record of $71.6 million set in the September 2011 quarter.

The 30% year-on-year increase was greater than the national increase of 5%.

Demand for critical minerals such as lithium and rare earths is driving the growth, accounting for $37.8 million in exploration expenditure.

The NT has 15 internationally recognised critical minerals and geological potential for another 13 emerging critical minerals.

As part of the NT government's support for critical minerals exploration, it awarded $3.7 million in grants this year to 38 projects from 30 companies as part of round 16 of the Geophysics and Drilling Collaborations grants program.

This is part of the $9.5 million Resourcing the Territory program, which is the largest and longest-term investment ever made by a NT government to support resource exploration and development.

The government also established the Minerals Development Taskforce to investigate and identify opportunities to accelerate private investment in the resources sector.

In April the MDT delivered its report and 28 recommendations to drive sustainable development of the NT's resources sector. The government accepted the report and is implementing the recommendations.

NT mining minister Nicole Manison said the latest figures show the world was transitioning rapidly to renewable energy and the Territory's critical minerals were in high demand.

"The Territory's resources sector, both in exploration and production, is a significant driver of the Territory's economy - currently contributing close to a quarter of the Territory's gross state product," she said.

* Darwin locals refer to the NT's parliament house as the Wedding Cake because "it is square, white and filled with fruits and nuts mixed with alcohol".