19/12/2007 - 22:00

Exploration spend tops $293m

19/12/2007 - 22:00

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Western Australia continues to lead the nation in mineral exploration expenditure, recording a second consecutive quarterly rise to reach a record high of $293 million for the September quarter, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Exploration spend tops $293m

Western Australia continues to lead the nation in mineral exploration expenditure, recording a second consecutive quarterly rise to reach a record high of $293 million for the September quarter, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

While the national total rose 12.1 per cent to $563 million, the WA figure represents a 16.4 per cent rise from the June quarter, and was the second largest rise across all states.

Both greenfields and brownfields exploration in WA were up on last quarter, increasing 17.4 per cent and 15.8 per cent respectively.

But the biggest increase came from the Northern Territory, which recorded a 42 per cent increase for the quarter to reach $33.4 million on the back of a strong rise in greenfields exploration.

Victoria was the only state to record a drop in expenditure.

By mineral, iron ore exploration remained at the top in WA for the second quarter in a row, with expenditure up 22.6 per cent to $104.5 million.

Gold has the second biggest spend, up 8.8 per cent to $76.5 million, followed by nickel and cobalt, up 16.5 per cent to $61.5 million.

WA also leads the nation in petroleum exploration expenditure, which rose 4 per cent for the quarter to reach $546.5 million.

All other states, with the exception of South Australia, recorded a drop in petroleum exploration.

WA made up the majority of the country’s $698.3 million petroleum exploration expenditure for the quarter.

The Association of Mining and Exploration’s policy and public affairs manager, Ian Loftus, said it was a positive sign that WA was increasing its share of national exploration expenditure up to 52 per cent, after spending the past few years in a slump.

In 2002, WA’s share of national exploration expenditure reached a high of 65 per cent, but dropped to as low as 43.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2006.

But while exploration activity is rising, it appears to be focused on brownfields exploration more so than greenfields, with just under two-thirds of the expenditure going into brownfields exploration.

Mr Loftus said government needed to provide appropriate incentives to fuel greater greenfields exploration activity.

“We do need to focus on getting new deposits up and running. We need to ensure we’re in a position to provide appropriate mechanisms to encourage greenfields exploration, and flow-through shares is one such mechanism,” he said.

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