06/07/1999 - 22:00

Exploration cuts hit home

06/07/1999 - 22:00

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A heavy reduction in gold exploration in Western Australia has impacted significantly on general mineral exploration in the State.

Exploration cuts hit home
A heavy reduction in gold exploration in Western Australia has impacted significantly on general mineral exploration in the State.

Expenditure in the mineral exploration industry Australia-wide has fallen to its lowest level in six years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Mineral exploration expenditure reported for the March quarter was $166 million, the lowest quarterly expenditure recorded since the same period in 1993.

The ABS says the most significant contributors to the decrease were the Northern Territory where expenditure fell 27 per cent ($4 million) and WA which was down 26 per cent ($40 million) on the previous quarter.

While gold remains the predominant mineral sought, quarterly exploration expenditure for this metal has fallen to the lowest level since the June quarter of 1993.

This has had a significant effect on mineral exploration in WA where gold exploration is the major contributor to expenditure, accounting for 66 per cent of the total in the March quarter.

In WA, expenditure on gold exploration fell from $102 million in the 1998 December quarter to $67 million (down 34 per cent) in the 1999 March quarter.

This reduced expenditure reflects significant falls in world commodity prices in recent times.

Other significant falls in expenditure from the 1998 December quarter were reported for diamonds which fell 76 per cent ($12 million), uranium which was down 61 per cent ($2 million), and iron ore which lost 47 per cent ($7 million).

Meanwhile, expenditure on petroleum exploration was $229 million for the March quarter. This was 11 per cent lower than the previous quarter and 14 per cent lower than the corresponding 1998 March quarter, mainly due to a fall in onshore exploration.

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