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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2003   
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Contents >> Mining >> Mineral exploration

Exploration involves the search for new ore occurrences or undiscovered oil or gas, and/or appraisal intended to delineate or greatly extend the limits of known deposits of minerals or oil or gas reservoirs by geological, geophysical, geochemical, drilling or other methods. This includes construction of shafts and adits primarily for exploration purposes, but excludes activity of a developmental or production nature.

Mineral exploration expenditure

Expenditure in Australia during the last five years on private mineral exploration other than for petroleum and water is summarised in table 18.3.

Mineral exploration expenditure in 2000-01 was $683m, $465m (41%) lower than in 1996-97, and $7m (1%) higher than in 1999-2000. Western Australia and Queensland, with expenditure lower by $268m (39%) and $78m (48%) respectively, were the main contributors to the fall between 1996-97 and 2000-01. Western Australia continued to account for the majority (60-62%) of the exploration expenditure over this period.


18.3 PRIVATE MINERAL EXPLORATION EXPENDITURE, By state/territory

1996-97
1997-98
1998-99
1999-2000
2000-01
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m

New South Wales
94.1
88.2
65.6
56.1
57.2
Victoria
51.8
43.1
37.0
33.8
32.7
Queensland
160.7
133.2
93.8
82.6
83.1
South Australia
35.1
45.0
41.9
22.6
29.6
Western Australia
691.7
660.4
523.1
415.0
424.1
Tasmania
26.0
20.7
11.9
8.8
9.2
Northern Territory
88.9
75.9
64.5
57.5
47.5
Australia
1,148.6
1,066.8
837.8
676.3
683.3

Source: Mineral and Petroleum Exploration, Australia (8412.0).


Most of the expenditure between 1996-97 and 2000-01 is related to the exploration for gold, as shown in table 18.4. In this period, gold exploration expenditure accounted for 54-63% of total mineral exploration expenditure. Its decline from $728m to $370m (down 49%) was the main contributing factor for the fall in mineral exploration expenditure. Expenditure in exploring other minerals except for mineral sands also fell.


18.4 PRIVATE MINERAL EXPLORATION EXPENDITURE, By mineral sought(a)

1996-97
1997-98
1998-99
1999-2000
2000-01
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m

Selected base metals
206.8
227.1
176.9
156.8
165.4
Copper
n.p.
n.p.
n.a.
28.4
32.8
Silver, lead-zinc
n.p.
n.p.
n.a.
55.4
59.8
Nickel, cobalt
n.p.
n.p.
n.a.
73.0
72.8
Gold
728.3
648.4
486.1
374.8
370.2
Iron ore
25.8
30.0
41.5
29.7
23.4
Mineral sands
13.9
14.0
19.0
21.5
23.6
Uranium
13.0
22.2
15.4
11.7
8.4
Coal
70.5
64.8
39.9
35.4
41.3
Diamonds
59.3
42.8
40.9
29.8
31.8
Other(b)
30.9
17.5
18.0
16.7
19.3
Australia
1,148.6
1,066.8
837.8
676.3
683.3

(a) From July 2000, the value of exploration expenditure excludes Wholesale Sales Tax.
(b) Includes tin, tungsten, scheelite, wolfram and construction materials.

Source: Mineral and Petroleum Exploration, Australia (8412.0).


Petroleum exploration expenditure

Total private petroleum exploration expenditure was $1,044m in 2000-01 (table 18.5), 22% higher than in 1996-97 and 44% higher than 1999-2000. This was mainly due to an increase of 44% in offshore exploration expenditure. In comparison, onshore exploration expenditure fell each year, and by 2000-01 it was 30% ($75m) lower than in 1996-97. As a result, the percentage contribution of offshore exploration expenditure to total expenditure increased from 70% in 1996-97 to 83% in 2000-01.


18.5 PRIVATE PETROLEUM EXPLORATION EXPENDITURE

1996-97
1997-98
1998-99
1999-2000
2000-01
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m

Onshore
251.9
232.2
182.3
110.1
176.9
Offshore
601.0
748.9
685.4
613.2
867.0
Total
853.0
981.2
867.7
723.3
1,043.9

Source: Mineral and Petroleum Exploration, Australia (8412.0).


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