Despite a small decline in the December 2021 quarter, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) said greenfield mineral exploration expenditure in Australia reached a record $1.207 billion for the full year.
“Annual greenfield exploration expenditure has not been this high since 2012, when it was $1.127 billion,” said Warren Pearce, chief executive of AMEC.
Mineral exploration expenditure in Australia for the December 2021 quarter was $953.3 million, 4.4% ($44.3 million) lower than in September 2021. However, it was 23.8% ($183 million) higher compared to the December 2020 quarter.
During the quarter, total expenditure grew in Victoria by 31%, South Australia by 41%, Tasmania by 6%, and the Northern Territory by 10%. AMEC said the large expenditure increases in South Australia and Victoria could be attributed to a jump in copper and selected base metals exploration in South Australia, and a rise in gold exploration in Victoria.
New South Wales exploration remained steady at $75.5 million, while total expenditure dropped in Western Australia and in Queensland by 9% and 8%, respectively. Although recording a decrease for the quarter, Western Australia had record annual exploration expenditure for both greenfields ($779.2 million), brownfields ($1.572 billion) and overall ($2.352 billion) in 2021.
“We are still in a period of heightened demand, and the commitment to mineral exploration remains the focus of our industry. Continued investment is needed to find the mines of the future and unlock the jobs and growth still waiting to be discovered,” said Pearce.