Exploration troubles continue

EXPLORATION in Australia continued to struggle during the June quarter, with expenditure in areas other than petroleum down more than 10% according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Jack McGinn

The mineral exploration expenditure trend estimate, which represents a smoothed seasonally adjusted figure, fell 10.9% or $A41.2 million to $336.2 million quarter-on-quarter, and a significant 28% compared with the corresponding period last year.

Western Australia was the largest contributor to the fall in trend estimate over the quarter, down 12.1% or $26.6 million compared with the previous quarter.

The figures look worse on pure seasonally adjusted terms, with expenditure down 13.9% or $51.8 million to $322 million over the three months.

WA was again a large contributor to the decline, with seasonally adjusted exploration spending down 13.9% or $30.2 million, while South Australian exploration spending fell a massive 57% or $14.6 million.

In terms of pure numbers, mineral exploration spending actually rose 8.5% or $27 million to $344 million over the quarter.

Greenfields exploration was up 25.3% on original terms to $114 million, while spending on brownfields exploration jumped 1.3% to $230 million.

The trend estimate for metres drilled fell 3.2% quarter-on-quarter and 6.5% on the previous corresponding quarter to 1.4 million metres, and down 4.3% on seasonally adjusted terms.

On quarter-on-quarter figures alone distance drilled was up 35% to 1.5 million metres, with drilling of new deposits up 81% and drilling of existing deposits up 22.7%.

Gold experienced the largest increase in exploration spending over the quarter, up 22.7% or $20.8 million to $112.4 million.

Iron ore exploration spending was down from $82.5 million in the March quarter to $77.2 million – a far cry from the $189 million spent during the previous June quarter.

Coal exploration spending jumped 15.4% to $50.1 million over the quarter to be another significant mover.