06/08/2021 - 12:00

WA drives exploration spend

06/08/2021 - 12:00

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Listed resources companies have spent $669 million on exploration in the past three months, with Western Australian projects accounting for more than two thirds.

Listed companies spent more than $260 million on exploring projects in WA in the past three months. Photo: Shane McLendon

Listed resources companies have spent a record $669 million on exploration in the past three months, with Western Australian projects accounting for more than two thirds.

The total exploration expenditure by 667 companies that reported to the ASX in the three months to June 30 has increased by 34 per cent on the prior quarter and by 69 per cent on the same time last year, marking a five-year high according to a report from Austex Resource Opportunities.

WA accounted for 65 per cent of the expenditure, far exceeding other states.

Queensland, also rich in resources, accounted for only 9.6 per cent of the total spend on exploration while NSW contributed 7 per cent, Victoria 6.5 per cent, Northern Territory 5.8 per cent, and South Australia 5.6 per cent.

The reporting companies raised more than $2 billion in capital in the three months to June 30, down 5 per cent on the March quarter but up 90 per cent on the same time last year.

Austex principal consultant Rob Murdoch said capital raisings and new debt were lower than the prior quarter, as companies had sufficient reserves and didn’t need to raise money.

WA accounted for half of the $1.2 billion raised for Australian projects – with about $260 million of spent on exploration.

The Association of Mining & Exploration Companies (AMEC) said the organisation, along with Austex, was confident the increase in spending would result in new discoveries.

“It’s an exciting time in the exploration industry right now,” AMEC chief executive Warren Pearce said.

“This time last year we were worried about how the industry would operate under the COVID-19 related travel restrictions that were required to keep communities safe.

“The industry not only adapted, but is thriving.

“Exploration is at the core of the industry, and the continued growth in expenditure is a great sign for Australia as more projects means more jobs, more revenue and more opportunities.”

Austex, based in Brisbane, is an independent resources consultant that gives information and advice on projects owned by ASX-listed companies.

It began reporting on exploration expenditure in 2016.

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