Greenfield exploration in Australia picks up

After at least two years of depressed mineral exploration in Australia, the activity is finally picking up, helped by a drop in the cost of searching for minerals amid a global downturn that has hit mining companies and service providers alike.

According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released Monday, the total area drilled (in metres) climbed by 6.9% during the December quarter, with activity in areas of new deposits increasing by 29.6%.

The country’s total exploration spending, however, continued to fall, dropping 3% or A$12 million, to A$382 million in the December quarter. Exploration on areas of new deposits fell 7.8%, or A$9 million, and expenditure on areas of existing deposits fell by 1.1%, or A$3 million.

Greenfield exploration in Australia picks up“In what is traditionally a negative quarter for mineral exploration, this year we have seen an increase in metres drilled driven by exploration on new deposits, ,” Simon Bennison, chief executive officer at the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, said in an e-mailed statement.

In Bennison’s opinion, the increase in greenfields mineral exploration highlights the Federal Government’s Exploration Development Incentive (EDI), effective since July last year, is having “a positive impact” on greenfields mineral exploration as intended.

Greenfield exploration in Australia picks up“AMEC has been working with the Australian Taxation Office, Treasury and the Department of Industry and Science to review the operation of the EDI to make it more effective for explorers and investors,” he noted.

In terms of oil-related exploration, expenditure decreased 22.5%, or A$132.1 million, to A$455.5 million in the December quarter, with Western Australia reporting the largest fall at 17.6%, or A$70.5 million.