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8412.0 - Mineral and Petroleum Exploration, Australia, Mar 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/06/2004   
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INQUIRIES

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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


MINERAL EXPLORATION (OTHER THAN FOR PETROLEUM)


TREND ESTIMATES

The trend estimate for total mineral exploration expenditure increased by 3.1% to $193.9m in the March quarter 2004. After being flat between March and September quarters 2003, the estimate has risen in the last two quarters and is now 5.6% higher than the March quarter 2003.

Graph: Mineral Exploration (Other than for Petroleum)


All states recorded slight increases this quarter except for NSW which had a small decrease. Western Australia had the largest increase of $2.7m (2.4%).


The trend estimate for metres drilled has been relatively unchanged for the past three quarters. The current estimate is now 6.2% higher than the March quarter estimate for last year.



MINERAL EXPLORATION (OTHER THAN FOR PETROLEUM)


EXPLORATION EXPENDITURE

In original terms, mineral exploration expenditure decreased by $32.2m (16.1%) in the March quarter 2004 (up 5.8% in seasonally adjusted terms). Expenditure on production leases remained relatively unchanged, whereas expenditure on all other areas decreased by $31.9m (20.8%).


Exploration in most states and territories fell this quarter, with Victoria having the only significant increase (of $6.8m or 64.2%). This was driven by an increase in exploration for gold. Western Australia had the largest decrease of $25.5m (20.9%), which was spread across all mineral groups.


Exploration for all minerals fell this quarter. The largest decreases came from coal (down $10.4, 43.2%) and nickel and cobalt (down $7.3m, 32%).

Mineral Exploration Expenditure, Original series
Graph: Mineral Exploration Expenditure, Original Series




MINERAL EXPLORATION (OTHER THAN FOR PETROLEUM)


METRES DRILLED

In original terms, total metres drilled decreased by 16.7% in the March quarter 2004 (down 0.6% in seasonally adjusted terms).


Metres drilled on production leases increased slightly while metres drilled on all other areas decreased by 25.6%.

METRES DRILLED, Original series
Graph: Metres Drilled, Original Series




PETROLEUM EXPLORATION EXPENDITURE


OVERVIEW

A number of petroleum exploration licences came to a close in 2003, resulting in a lower than usual March quarter. Expectations for the six months to June 2004 (as recorded in the December 2003 survey) were relatively high, suggesting the March quarter downturn may only be temporary. Expenditure on petroleum exploration for the March quarter 2004 fell by $119.3m (41.4%) to $168.8m, the lowest level since the June quarter 2000. Petroleum expenditure is now $97.7m (36.7%) lower than in the March quarter 2003. Expenditure on exploration on both production leases and all other areas fell this quarter, with production leases falling by $14.4m (40.2%), and all other areas falling by $104.9m (41.6%).


Offshore exploration had a strong decrease of $91.8m (44.2%) , with non-drilling activity accounting for the majority of the fall. Onshore exploration expenditure also decreased this quarter, by $27.4m (34.0%).

Graph: Petroleum Exploration Expenditure



REGIONAL DATA

In the March quarter 2004 all states recorded decreases or had little change. Western Australia had the largest decrease, down $81.3m (43.2%), whilst Victoria and Queensland decreased by $14.5m(48.2%) and $16.8m (46.0%), respectively.

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