Surge in Australian Mineral Exploration Activity
According to the latest findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there has been a significant surge in mineral exploration expenditure in both South Australia and Tasmania. In particular, mineral exploration spending in South Australia has surpassed a record that had stood for eleven years.
Based on the ABS data, the exploration expenditure in the March quarter reached $64.2 million, marking an increase of $16.7 million compared to the previous quarter in December 2022. This surpasses the previous record set in December 2012 when $61 million was spent on exploration in South Australia.
The increase in mineral exploration expenditure in South Australia has been driven by BHP’s increased exploration activity at its Oak Dam prospect. On a national scale, the mineral exploration spend saw a 0.7 percent increase in the quarter and was four percent higher compared to the same period 12 months ago.
During the March quarter, petroleum exploration in Australia reached $20.7 million, contributing to a national expenditure of $244 million. This marks a significant increase of 16.3 percent compared to the expenditure in the previous quarter. Tasmania has also experienced substantial growth in exploration expenditure, with the latest ABS data revealing a total expenditure of $44.5 million in the 12-month period ending in March 2023.
According to Tasmania’s Minister for Resources, Felix Ellis, mineral exploration in the state has reached its highest level ever recorded. Ellis stated that there has been a remarkable 93 percent increase in exploration expenditure compared to the preceding 12-month period.
“We are well aware that the global transition to renewable energy and the demands of defense manufacturing will require the key and critical minerals that Tasmania possesses. That is precisely why we are strongly supporting the growth of the industry through initiatives such as the Exploration Drilling Grant Initiative (EDGI) and Geoscience Initiative,” emphasized the Tasmania Minister for Resources, highlighting the strategic importance of the state’s minerals in meeting future global needs.
The primary objective of the Exploration Drilling Grant Initiative (EDGI) is to incentivize and support greenfields exploration activities in Tasmania, focusing on minerals that are deemed critical and included in the Australian critical minerals list. Since the inception of the program, a total of eight funding rounds have been conducted, resulting in the successful facilitation of over 14,000 meters of drilling operations. These grants have played a significant role in promoting exploration and unlocking the potential of Tasmania’s mineral resources.
Through the $2 million Geoscience Initiative, Tasmania is undertaking efforts to gather and analyze new geoscience data. This initiative aims to provide valuable information that will support and reduce the risks associated with future mineral exploration endeavors. By enhancing the understanding of Tasmania’s geology and resource potential, this initiative seeks to lay a strong foundation for the next generation of mineral exploration in the region.