8412.0 - Mineral and Petroleum Exploration, Australia, Mar 2000  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/06/2000   
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June 21, 2000
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)

Exploration expenditure slumps to seven year low

Mineral exploration expenditure hit a seven year low in the March quarter of this year, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today. After eleven consecutive quarters of declining figures, expenditure was at its lowest since June 1993.

The trend estimate for mineral exploration expenditure fell $3m to $166m during the quarter. This was 18 per cent lower than the estimate of $201m for the same quarter in 1999.

Gold was once again the main contributor to the decrease in mineral exploration with expenditure falling by 22 per cent to $72m. This is the lowest level since the March quarter 1993.

During the March quarter 2000, 1.1 million metres were reported drilled, 23 per cent less than the December quarter 1999. The number of metres drilled is now at the lowest level since the ABS first collected this data in the June quarter 1987.

Expenditure on petroleum exploration fell by $30 million (16 per cent) to $161m in the March quarter 2000 when compared to the December 1999 quarter. Expenditure on onshore exploration dropped by 38 per cent ($16m) with drilling contributing 84 per cent of the fall. Offshore drilling expenditure increased by $16m (19 per cent) representing 76 per cent of total offshore expenditure in the March quarter.

Western Australia was the only state to report an increase in expenditure, up one quarter (25 per cent) or $24m to $121m. Victoria and the Northern Territory (including the Ashmore Cartier Islands) both reported falls in expenditure of 44 per cent and 33 per cent respectively.

Further information can be found in Mineral and Petroleum Exploration, Australia (cat. no. 8412.0) available from ABS bookshops. This publication was previously titled Actual and Expected Private Mineral Exploration, Australia. The main features of the publication are also available on this site. If you wish to purchase a copy of this publication, contact the ABS bookshops in your capital city.