Australia Minerals

Australian Mineral Exploration Expenditure: 2012-13 Financial Year

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Chart 1: Australian financial year mineral exploration expenditure.

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Chart 2: Greenfields and brownfields financial year drilling expenditure and metres.

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Chart 3: Financial year exploration expenditure by jurisdiction ($ million).

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Chart 4: Financial year exploration expenditure by commodity ($ million).

  • Mineral exploration expenditure (non-petroleum) decreased to $3055.3 million (m) for the 2012-13 financial year, a decrease of 23% relative to the 2011-12 financial year ($3953.0m). Chart 1.
  • Compared to 2011-12, exploration expenditure in and around known deposits (brownfields) decreased by 25% to $2037.1m and expenditure for undiscovered mineralisation in frontier regions (greenfields) decreased by 18% to $1018.4m. Brownfields drilling decreased by 26% to 5 691 000 metres and greenfields drilling decreased by 26% to 2 729 000 metres. Total metres drilled decreased by 26% to 8 420 000 metres. Chart 2.
  • An increase in exploration expenditure in 2012-13 was recorded in Tasmania (up 2.8% to $40.4m). All other jurisdictions had decreases in exploration expenditure: Western Australia (down 16% to $1763.4m), New South Wales (down 23% to $187.3m), South Australia (down 30% to $230.4m), Queensland (down 31% to $663.6m), Victoria (down 34% to $38.5m) and Northern Territory (down 37% to $131.7m). Chart 3.
  • Exploration spending in 2012-2013 decreased for all commodities: iron ore (down 12% to $1011.3m), gold (down 14% to $661.8m), base metals, copper, cobalt and nickel (down 29% to $563.7m), coal (down 35% to $544.0m), uranium (down 55% to $69.5 m), and spending associated with minor commodities, such as manganese, molybdenum, phosphate, tin, tungsten and vanadium (down 19% to $161.2m). Chart 4.

Commonwealth, State and Territory Geoscience Initiatives

The Commonwealth, State and Northern Territory governments have developed pre-competitive geoscience initiatives to promote mineral exploration. Pre-competitive programs currently underway or in development include:

  • Geoscience Australia has a program focussed on greenfields and undercover. The program is working closely with the State and Northern Territory geological surveys and the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DETCRC) External site link to characterise and drill prospective, under-explored regions. Geoscience Australia is leading two drilling projects in 2013-14 in conjunction with the State and Northern Territory governments. One project, the Stavely Zone Drilling Project, in western Victoria, will be carried out in conjunction with the Geological Survey of Victoria External site link. The project plans to drill a series of holes into the basement rocks to test geological and mineral system models. The second project, the Southern Thomson Orogen Project, is around the border of Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) working with both the Geological Survey of Queensland (GSQ) External site link and the Geological Survey of NSW External site link. This year the project will synthesise and integrate available datasets, and acquire new geophysical and geochemical datasets to test models of cover thickness and character, and styles of basement geology and associated mineralisation.
  • The Queensland government has allocated $30m for 2013-16 to the GSQ for the Future Resources Program External site link. Initiatives to be undertaken in 2013-14 involve geochemical data extraction, seismic section scanning, predevelopment for a core library extension and GSQ projects determined by industry as a priority. Also in 2013-14, initiatives of the 2010-14 $18m Greenfields 2020 External site link Program will include a deep seismic and magnetotelluric survey east and southeast of Mount Isa, and gold and strategic metals projects in North Queensland.
  • New South Wales has been actively implementing pre-competitive data acquisition and investment attraction through the New Frontiers Minerals Rental Fee External site link. In 2012-13, its first year, it resulted in a budget allocation of $6.5m. Highlights include new gravity acquisition in the east Riverina region, and new seismic acquisition south of Cobar. New South Wales has also announced a $2m per annum cooperative drilling scheme to encourage exploration drilling.
  • The Victorian government will spend $31.7m over four years on programs to build a strong, safe and sustainable mining industry. More than $19m will be directed to reinvigorating the State’s mining industry by driving a new wave of exploration and reducing barriers to investment.
  • Commencing in 2011-12, the Tasmanian government is investing $1.8m over three years, in the Western Tasmanian Geoscience Initiative External site link to promote investment in the minerals industry in Tasmania and to acquire new pre-competitive geoscience data. This program includes the collection of new gravity, LiDAR and airborne magnetic/radiometric data, regional mapping, geochronological and geochemical studies and the development of new updated regional 3D geological models to assist and encourage explorers in western Tasmania.
  • The Northern Territory government commenced a new $3.95m one-year initiative, Creating Opportunities for Resource Exploration (CORE) External site link in July 2013. CORE programs are focussed on accelerating the next generation of both minerals and petroleum discoveries by providing information to encourage investment in new areas of the Northern Territory. These programs include regional gravity surveys, the continuation of the Geophysics and Drilling Collaboration program and multi-disciplinary mapping and mineral potential projects.
  • The South Australian government is continuing with PACE 2020 External site link until June 2014, and has a further $4m funding as part of PACE Frontiers until June 2015. Major pre-competitive geoscience programs will be undertaken in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) and the Western Gawler Craton, Eucla Basin. In the WPA, a major detailed gravity survey (over 34 000 stations) was completed in September 2013 and will soon be followed with data release. In the Western Gawler Craton, major activities commence in late 2013 with a seismic line along the transcontinental railway in collaboration with Geoscience Australia. This will be followed by regional airborne geophysics and regional magnetotelluric surveys.
  • The Western Australian government is investing $131m in the 2009-17 Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS) External site link to encourage discoveries in greenfield areas. The EIS has resulted in the completion of the state’s coverage of airborne magnetic and radiometric surveys, and in 2013-14 continues to co-fund innovative exploration drilling by companies in under-explored areas, and gravity, magnetotelluric and deep seismic lines. Also in 2013-14, the EIS is funding a large $2.4m airborne electromagnetic survey in the greenfields Capricorn Orogen as part of a four-year major collaborative geoscience program with CSIRO External site link, the University of Western Australia External site link, Curtin University External site link and industry.

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Topic contact: Last updated: January 16, 2014