Companies are splashing more cash on exploration in the minerals and petroleum sectors, with Western Australia leading the way for the June quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show exploration expenditure has risen in both areas of the industry, with a strong resurgence particularly in petroleum.

The trend estimate for total mineral exploration expenditure increased 6.8% ($34.6m) to $547.1m in the June quarter 2018.

In another sign of restored confidence in the sector, it continues an upward spiral following a 4.9 per cent rise in the March quarter.

Western Australia is leading the surge as the largest contributor to the increase, up 7% ($21.4m) this quarter. The current quarter estimate is 28.9% higher than the June quarter 2017 estimate.

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

The trend estimate for metres drilled rose 4.7% in the June quarter 2018, 15.5% higher than the June quarter 2017 estimate.

It also spiked for total petroleum exploration expenditure, up 10.6% ($25.3m) to $262.9m in the June quarter 2018, backed by Western Australia (up 19.8%, $26.3m) as the largest contributor to the increase.

Petroleum exploration spending rebounded off a March quarter drop of 21 per cent (-$49.9m).

Exploration expenditure on production leases rose 0.6% ($0.3m) and exploration expenditure on all other areas rose 13.0% ($24.4m).

The trend estimate for onshore petroleum exploration expenditure rose 7.7% ($6.4m) to $89.3m in the June quarter 2018. Expenditure on drilling rose 8.0% ($4.0m) and other onshore petroleum exploration expenditure rose 7.6% ($2.5m).

Offshore petroleum exploration expenditure increased 12.1% ($18.7m) to $173.4m in the June quarter 2018. Expenditure on drilling rose 34.6% ($24.0m) and other offshore petroleum exploration expenditure fell 6.2% (-$5.3m).

Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the strong rise in exploration for iron ore, coal and copper in the June quarter suggested miners are responding to strong demand, particularly in Asia.

“Mineral sands exploration grew particularly strongly, lifting by 44 per cent in the quarter,” he said.

“This reflects Australia’s growing importance as a supplier of minerals crucial to the development of clean energy and emerging technology across the rising economies of Asia.”

West’s success to continue

Western Australia’s strong showing in the quarter ABS figures is tipped to boost the number of applications for Round 18 of the state’s Exploration Incentive Scheme’s (EIS) co-funded drilling program.

Applications for round 18 of the Western Australian State Government’s Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS) co-funded drilling program are open until 5 October, 2018.

Applications for Round 17 earlier this year jumped more than 20 per cent to 63, compared to 52 for Round 16 – this trend is likely to continue for Round 18.

Since the program started in 2008, 671,150 metres have been drilled at 422 projects – resulting in more than 29 discoveries.

For more information and link to apply, click here.

Changes to reporting guidelines in WA

Feedback is being sought on mineral exploration reporting guideline amendments proposed by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety in Western Australia.

Four amendments have originally proposed to be included in an update of the guidelines in 2018:

  • Report compliance – two paragraphs have been combined into one (page 7).
  • Online submission of reports will become compulsory (page 9).
  • Mineralogical samples – detailing the format of the unique sample numbers (page 20).
  • Addition of the program of works approval number and site rehabilitation columns to the surface location template (page 35).

The following are additional proposed amendments to align the wording more closely with Section 115A(1) of the Mining Act 1978:

  • Purpose of the Guidelines – wording changed to more accurately reflect the meaning of an exploration report as defined in the Mining Act 1978 (page 1).
  • Structure of reports – wording changed to more accurately reflect the meaning of an exploration report as defined in the Mining Act 1978 (page 11).
  • Airborne geophysics – repository – wording changed to more accurately reflect the wording in Mining Act 1978 (page 28).

Comments on the proposed amendments are welcomed and should be emailed by 30 September 2018 to [email protected]

Operator wanted for WA diamond mine

Expressions of interest (EOI) are being sought from mining companies to reopen the Ellendale diamond mine in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.

Located 120 kilometres east of Derby, Ellendale was mined between 2002 and 2015 and is still considered to contain marketable diamonds.

The mine has produced gem and industrial-quality diamonds, and previously provided about half of the world’s highly valued fancy yellow diamonds – US jeweller Tiffany & Co was a major client.

Submissions close on Friday November 30, 2018 and will be evaluated by a panel of experts at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety before being presented to Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston.  For more information, click here.