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Mineral and Petroleum Exploration, Australia

Expenditure and metres drilled in exploration for minerals and petroleum. Classified by state and commodity, and onshore/offshore for petroleum

Reference period
March Quarter 2020
Released
2/06/2020
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Mineral exploration

Total expenditure

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for mineral exploration expenditure fell 0.6% (-$4.3m) to $712.7m in the March quarter 2020. The largest contributor to the fall this quarter was NSW (down 20.0%, -$17.1m).
     
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  • In original terms, mineral exploration expenditure fell 20.1% (-$151.0m) to $602.1m in the March quarter 2020. Exploration on areas of existing deposits fell 16.0% (-$71.8m) and expenditure on areas of new deposits fell 26.1% (-$79.2m).
  • In original terms, the largest decrease by minerals sought came from expenditure on Selected Base metals (down 28.8%, -$57.5m).
     
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Metres Drilled

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for metres drilled rose 3.0% in the March quarter 2020.
     
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  • In original terms, metres drilled fell -17.3%. Drilling in areas of new deposits fell -12.3% and drilling in areas of existing deposits fell -19.9%.
     
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Petroleum exploration

Total expenditure

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for total petroleum exploration expenditure fell 22.2% (-$83.7m) to $293.9m in the March quarter 2020. Exploration expenditure on all other areas fell 31.5% (-$85.3m) and exploration on production leases rose 1.5% ($1.6m).
  • The largest contributor to the fall in the seasonally adjusted estimate was Queensland (down 45.5%, -$32.3m).
     
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Onshore

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for onshore petroleum exploration expenditure fell 25.1% (-$50.8m) to $151.7m in the March quarter 2020. Expenditure on drilling fell 10.9% (-$15.0m) and other onshore petroleum exploration fell 54.9% (-$35.9m).
     
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Offshore

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for offshore petroleum exploration expenditure fell 18.8% (-$32.9m) to $142.2m in the March quarter 2020. Expenditure on drilling fell 52.7% (-$44.0m) and other offshore petroleum exploration expenditure rose 12.1% ($11.1m).
     
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Notes

Corona virus (COVID-19) in March quarter

The World Health Organisation (WHO) commenced daily situation reports of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on 21 January 2020 and identified it as an international health emergency on 30 January. From 1 February, the Australian Government placed travel restrictions on those travelling to Australia from mainland China. These restrictions were progressively increased until they applied to all non-residents. In March, regulations to encourage social distancing saw further impacts on the ability of businesses to trade as normal.

COVID-19 saw a minor impact on data collection activities for the March quarter 2020 reference quarter.

Suspension of trend series

The trend series attempts to measure underlying behaviour in exploration expenditure and metres drilled. In the short term, this measurement will be significantly affected by changes to regular patterns that will occur during this time. If the trend estimates in this publication were to be calculated without fully accounting for this irregular event, they would likely provide a misleading view of underlying exploration expenditure and metres drilled.

It may be some time before the underlying trend in exploration expenditure and metres drilled can be accurately estimated. The exploration expenditure and metres drilled trend series has therefore been suspended as at March quarter 2020. The trend series will be reinstated when more certainty emerges in the underlying trend.

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Data downloads

Table 1. Private exploration, actual and expected expenditure

Table 2. Mineral exploration, (other than for petroleum) - expenditure and metres drilled

Table 3b. Mineral exploration, (other than for petroleum) - expenditure by type of deposit

Table 4. Mineral exploration, (other than for petroleum) - expenditure by state and territory

Table 5. Mineral exploration, (other than for petroleum) - expenditure by mineral sought

Table 6a. Petroleum exploration, expenditure by onshore and offshore

Table 6b. Petroleum exploration, expenditure by type of lease

Table 7. Petroleum exploration, expenditure by state and territory