MINERAL AND PETROLEUM EXPLORATION EXPENDITURE
Expenditure on mineral exploration (trend) in Western Australia rose 9.2% ($18 million) to $217 million in the March quarter 2007, the 5th successive quarterly rise since the December quarter 2005 ($145 million). During this period, mineral exploration expenditure grew at an average rate of 8.5% per quarter, significantly higher than the rate recorded during the exploration boom of the mid-1990s (5.1% per quarter over the 8 quarters to June 1997). The current level ($217 million) of Western Australia's mineral exploration expenditure is $34 million higher than the previous peak of $183 million in the June quarter 1997.
MINERAL EXPLORATION EXPENDITURE, Total minerals
In original terms, Western Australia's mineral exploration expenditure rose 48.1% ($58 million) to $180 million through the year to March quarter 2007. Growth was recorded across all major minerals, with the largest increases in iron ore (up $19 million or 60.0%), nickel, cobalt (up $18 million or 89.8%) and gold (up $10 million or 18.6%). Increases in mineral exploration activity have coincided with rising world commodity prices over the 12 months to March 2007, especially for nickel (up 211.0%) and gold (up 17.6%). The state's petroleum exploration expenditure more than doubled to $320 million through the year to March quarter 2007 (up 133.2% or $183 million).
MINERAL AND ENERGY PRODUCTION
Between the March quarters of 2006 and 2007, production increased across most mineral and energy commodities in Western Australia. Minerals recording increases were nickel (up 14.3%), iron ore (up 10.7%), bauxite (up 9.6%) and ilmenite (up 5.9%). In contrast, zinc (down 37.5%), diamonds (down 31.7%) and gold (down 5.0%) production declined. Energy production in Western Australia rose for crude oil (up 35.1%), electricity (up 6.9%) and natural gas (up 6.4%) through the year.