Exploration expenditure rose 18.3% from the same period in 2011, totalling $A335.1 million.
Nationally, mineral exploration expenditure was $3.86 billion, an increase of 18.3% from the previous year.
SA Minerals, Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the figures reaffirmed the state’s “reputation as the next great mining frontier”
“Each new drillhole brings us closer to the next big discovery,” he said.
“This level of spending puts our explorers in the box seat to identify new resources to add to the state’s 20 approved mines and its substantial pipeline of projects.”
SA’s mineral expenditure in the September quarter of $81.4 million is ranked third in the country behind Western Australia and Queensland.
Copper exploration expenditure in SA was $34.9 million for the quarter, representing 34% of the national total.
Explorers in SA also targeted iron ore, spending $20.2 million in the September quarter, and uranium exploration, with $5.6 million spent.
Koutsantonis said the SA government had allocated $2 million in this year’s budget to fund new pre-competitive surveys designed to identify prospective areas in the Gawler Craton, much of which is in the newly opened Woomera Prohibited Area.
“The surveys, using remote-sensing technology, will by mid-2013 have identified favourable geophysical and geological anomalies for explorers to target,” he said.
The Gawler Craton is considered one of Australia’s most prospective areas and is home to the Olympic Dam and Prominent Hill mines.
This article first appeared in ILN's sister publication MiningNews.net.