Exploration investment on rise

INCREASED mineral exploration activity reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is another sign of renewed confidence in the resources and energy industry.

New ABS data shows the trend estimate for mineral exploration expenditure climbed 4.9 per cent ($23.5 million) during the March quarter, to $489.5m.

Western Australia experienced a four per cent, $11.5m increase, while Queensland exploration expenditure lifted 6.2 per cent ($4.3m).

Queensland also expected received a $3.7 billion boost in coal royalties in yesterday’s state budget due to sustained high prices.

Metres drilled by explorers also lifted 2.4 per cent in the March quarter 2018, with the current quarter estimate 13.5 per cent higher than the March quarter 2017 estimate.

It was a different story for the petroleum industry, with total exploration expenditure falling 21 per cent (-$49.9m) to $187.6m in the March quarter 2018. Exploration expenditure on production leases fell 3.8 per cent (-$2.0m) and exploration expenditure on all other areas fell 21.8 per cent (-$40.2m).

The largest contributor to the decrease was Western Australia (down 14.9 per cent, -$17.2m).

Onshore petroleum exploration expenditure fell 13.2 per cent (-$10.8m) to $71.2m in the March quarter 2018.

Expenditure on onshore drilling fell 5.7 per cent (-$2.8m) and other onshore petroleum exploration expenditure fell 22.6 per cent (-$7.4m).

Offshore petroleum exploration expenditure fell 23.3 per cent (-$36.2m) to $119.2m in the March quarter 2018.

Expenditure on offshore drilling fell 50.3 per cent (-$31.5m) and other offshore petroleum exploration expenditure fell 5.2% (-$4.8m).

Funding for WA drilling

More than $5 million has been provided from the Western Australian State Government for 42 exploration drilling projects.

Successful applicants for Round 17 of the state’s Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS) co-funded drilling program, share in $5.2 million across 42 projects to be drilled in the 2018-19 financial year.

A range of commodities including copper, silver, lithium, base metals, manganese, graphite and heavy rare earth elements are among those targeted by applicants.

Now in its 10th year, the co-funded drilling program has supported more than 430 ventures, which have drilled more than 630,000 metres and contributed to more than 25 discoveries.

The next round will open in August-September for co-funded projects to be drilled in 2019.

For more information on the list of successful applicants, visit http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au

Funding boost for Tasmania

TASMANIA’S North-West mining industry has received a $2 million boost to help further exploration.

The funding will help cover helicopter costs for mining exploration, underpinning the next generation of mineral discoveries in Tasmania.

The sector employs 6300 people state-wide and accounted for 55 per cent—or more than $1.5 billion—of Tasmania’s exports in 2016-17.

Minister for Resources Guy Barnett said he wanted the mining and minerals processing sector to continue playing its vital role in the North-West.

“We recognise that we need to work closely with the industry to do so, and know that the key to the future of the industry is discovering new ore deposits,” he said in a statement.

The $2 million is available over four years in a co-funded program to ease the burden of drilling costs.

“We will also make it easier for prospective mining areas to be reached, by covering certain helicopter transportation costs,” Mr Barnett said.

Program applications will open in the first half of the 2018-19 financial year with the intention of supporting works in the next drilling season.