Gold was down in exploration expenditure for the September quarter, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), while iron ore made up ground by $23.8 million.
Exploration for the precious metal dropped just $100,000 to $429.7 million over the quarter – a cyclical decline still placing it well above the pack.
‘Other minerals’ recorded the largest rise of $25 million, and iron ore’s jump of 15.8 per cent to $174.6 million was the second largest gain of the quarter.
Existing deposits received attention worth $636.3 million (up 5.8 per cent) and new deposits jumped 11.5 per cent to $346.1 million.
Australia’s overall mineral exploration increased by 4.5 per cent to $925.9 million for the September quarter, seasonally adjusted, despite metres drilled falling for the first quarter since June 2020.
Around the states and territories, Western Australia led the way with a new quarterly record of $596.1 million splashed on exploration, while Queensland placed second with $114.7 million.
Queensland’s figure was its most spent on exploration since March 2014, and Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane was upbeat about the data.
“The exploration expenditure data is up 5 per cent higher than the previous 12 months and 40 per cent higher than the same period two years ago, so it’s another strong result for Queensland,” Macfarlane said.
“These latest figures show our explorers have managed to continue to expand their exploration programs in spite of COVID-19’s impact on the availability to recruit skilled workers and source equipment from overseas and interstate.”
Western Australia’s figures could be partially attributed to the Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS) which the State Government increased by $2.5 million in August to a total of $12.5 million.
Following the announcement in August, Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia chief executive Paul Everingham said exploration is key to the success of the state’s mining and resources sector.
“Projects around the state, which provide jobs for hundreds of thousands of Western Australians and so many community and economic benefits, all have to start somewhere – and that start is often exploration,” he said.