Mineral exploration takes another hit

Mineral exploration in Australia was down by $59 million in the March quarter to a near decade low.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows mineral exploration expenditure fell 13.4 per cent to $38m in the March quarter 2015.

The largest contributors to the fall were Queensland, down 32.2 per cent or $30.7m and Western Australia, down 11.9 per cent or $30.1m.

Exploration on areas of new deposits fell 39.7 per cent or $60m and expenditure on areas of existing deposits fell 26.3 per cent or $81m.

The largest decrease by minerals sought came from expenditure on iron ore which was down 43.4 per cent or $63m.

The next largest decrease came from expenditure on coal, down 44 per cent or $34.3m.

The cuts come as both greenfield and brownfield developments are put on hold in light of falling commodity prices and higher operating costs.

This was highlighted by the recent half-year financial reports released by the major miners.

BHP Billiton cut exploration and capex from $US22.3 billion to $US15.2 billion in the year to June 2014 and is targeting a $US10.8 billion range by June 2016.

Rio Tinto also took an axe to its costs, lowering expenditure for 2014-15 to less than $8.5 billion, the lowest since 2010.

While Anglo American announced it would reduce spending by up to $US1 billion in 2015 to $US5.2-5.5 billion.

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