Western Australia delivers quarterly exploration boost

Western Australia is driving a boost to mineral exploration spending in the March 2019 quarter, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data.

Trend estimates for total mineral exploration expenditure increased by 1.7 per cent to $573.9 million in the quarter.

Western Australia preserved its status as the largest contributor to this growth, up 2.6 per cent ($8.8 million) on December 2018 figures.

Seasonally adjusted estimates also showed strong growth, up 3.9 per cent ($21.7 million) to $581.7 million for the quarter, with Western Australia again the largest contributor the rise, up 8.7 per cent ($29 million).

While exploration spending was found to have increased in the mining industry overall in the last three months, greenfields exploration was down. The ABS reported that exploration on areas of new deposits fell by $57.5 million (24.6 per cent) in the quarter.

This contrasted the findings of the ABS’s September 2018 report six months ago, which reported a 13 per cent rise in exploration spending at new deposits and a two per cent fall at existing deposits.

These findings were also reflected by the number of metres drilled in the quarter, which was up by 9.8 per cent overall but down 20.9 per cent for drilling at new deposits.

In addition, the seasonally adjusted spend on buildings and structures across all industries dropped by 2.8 per cent across all industries. Within the mining industry, this fall was 3.7 per cent in the quarter.

Conversely, mining bucked a downward estimate for equipment, plant and machinery spending. While spending was down by 0.5 per cent overall in seasonally adjusted terms across all industries, it was up 6.3 per cent in the mining industry, suggesting good health for mining equipment suppliers.

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