Explorers searching for the mines of the future continue to rise, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealing another period of increased activity.

The upward trend continued in the September quarter with strong spikes in the metres drilled for mineral exploration (up 6%), greenfields exploration (up 7.2%) and brownfields (up 5.8%).

Total Australian mineral exploration expenditure increased 2.5% ($14.3m) to $582.1m in the September 2018 quarter.

Greenfields mineral exploration expenditure was up 13.0% ($25.7m), however expenditure on brownfields exploration expenditure fell by 2.0% (-$7.5m).

Mineral exploration expenditure dropped in New South Wales by 21%, by 8.6% in Victoria and 17% in Tasmania, but increased in Queensland by 21%, 7.6% in SA and 3% in WA.

The majority of mineral exploration expenditure was in search of gold, up 8.5% ($18.8m) compared to the June 2018 quarter.

More than 60% ($174m) of Australia’s mineral exploration was in Western Australia, with 48% of that spent in pursuit of gold.

Petroleum exploration expenditure rose 14.5% ($39.9m) to $314.3m in the September quarter 2018 in trend estimate figures. Exploration expenditure on production leases rose 18.3% ($11.3m) and exploration expenditure on all other areas rose 12.3% ($26.2m).

The largest contributor to the increase in the trend estimate was Western Australia (up 18.2%, $29.2m).

Onshore petroleum exploration expenditure rose 10.7% ($9.9m) to $102.6m in the September quarter 2018. Expenditure on drilling rose 19.2% ($12.1m) and other onshore petroleum exploration expenditure fell 7.1% (-$2.1m).

Offshore petroleum exploration expenditure rose 15.6% ($28.3m) to $210.0m in the September quarter 2018. Expenditure on drilling rose 27.1% ($25.7m) and other offshore petroleum exploration expenditure rose 3.0% ($2.6m).

New WA exploration projects on the rise

More than $5.3 million has been provided for 40 exploration drilling projects in Western Australia through the state government’s Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS) co-funded drilling program.

Seventy-three applications were received Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety indicating an increase in exploration activity.

Round 18 of the EIS attracted 73 applications – an increase of about 16 per cent on the previous round.

Successful applicants have projects across the state and several have used EIS precompetitive science to refine drilling targets in the Nullarbor.

The co-funding will support exploration for gold, base metals, petroleum, nickel, lithium, rare earth elements, potash and diamonds.

A list of successful applicants can be found here. The next round for co-funded applications will open in February 2019.

Exploration grants say ‘Head North’

Almost $2 million in incentives are on offer for explorers to uncover minerals in Queensland’s remote, resource-rich North West.

Fifteen new exploration projects, powered by 12 companies, would be bolstered by the latest round of collaborative exploration grants.

The government is also opening tenders to explore 672 square kilometres of new land in the Bowen and Eromanga Basins.

Government and industry jointly fund the Collaborative Exploration Initiative, which backs private investment in under-explored parts of north-west Queensland by co-funding particularly innovative projects.

Over the past 11 years, this program and its forebears have proven success in identifying new mineral deposits.

The proponents of the latest funded projects will receive up to half of the direct activity costs of their projects to a maximum of $200,000.

They will get an additional incentive of 75 per cent, or up to $300,000, if they can hit the ground running and finalise their projects by August 2019.

Tenders for the new coal exploration areas opened on 6 December and bidders will need to include a cash offer in their bid. Preferred tenderers must meet environmental, native title, and other approval requirements before the five-year exploration rights are granted.

For more information, click here.