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8412.0 - Mineral and Petroleum Exploration, Australia, Dec 1999  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/03/2000   
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MEDIA RELEASE

March 22, 2000
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)
2000

Exploration expenditure continues to decline

Mineral exploration expenditure continued its decline for the tenth consecutive quarter, and is at the lowest level since June 1993, according to a report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

The trend estimate for mineral exploration expenditure fell $4m to $170m during the December quarter of 1999. This was 23% lower than the estimate of $220m for the same quarter in 1998.

The main contributor to the decrease in mineral exploration once again was gold. Gold exploration expenditure fell by 10% in the December quarter 1999 to $92m, to be 34% lower than the expenditure reported in the December quarter 1998. This was the lowest reported expenditure on gold exploration since the June quarter of 1993.

Exploration expenditure for base metals (copper, silver-lead-zinc, nickel and cobalt) increased 34% to $45m between the September and December quarters of 1999.

The trend estimate for the number of metres drilled also continued to decline. During the December quarter 1999, 1.5 million metres were reported drilled, the lowest estimate since the March quarter 1993.

Expenditure on petroleum exploration was $191m in the December quarter 1999, 25% ($64m) lower than the December quarter 1998. Total petroleum expenditure fell from the September quarter 1999 as a result of a 19% ($36m) fall in offshore expenditure, the majority of which was in drilling expenditure (down $26m).

Of the published regional data, both the Northern Territory (down $24m) and Western Australia (down $15m) were the main contributors to the decline, while Queensland recorded an increase of $12m from the September quarter 1999.

Further details can be found in Mineral and Petroleum Exploration, Australia, December Quarter 1999 (cat. no. 8412.0) available from ABS bookshops. This publication was previously titled Actual and Expected Private Mineral Exploration, Australia. To find out how to purchase a copy of this publication, telephone the ABS Bookshop in your capital city.

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