8412.0 - Actual and Expected Private Mineral Exploration, Australia, Sep 1998  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/12/1998   
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December 22, 1998
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)

Exploration expenditure decline continues - ABS

Total mineral exploration expenditure in Australia for the September quarter 1998 was $236 million, down $27 million (10%) from the June quarter, according to a report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Gold remains the predominant mineral sought with $135 million (57% of all exploration expenditure) spent during the quarter.

Total expenditure on petroleum exploration was $193 million in the September quarter 1998, a fall of $141 million (42%) from the June quarter. Onshore exploration decreased $9 million (14%) to $56 million, while offshore exploration expenditure fell $132 million (49%) to $137 million during this quarter.

The report also shows that Australian resident companies spent $379 million exploring for minerals overseas in 1997-98, 14% less than in 1996-97.

Gold was the main mineral sought overseas, with expenditure of $218 million (57% of total), followed by base metals (copper, silver-lead-zinc, nickel and cobalt) with $103 million (27%).

Latin America (comprising Mexico, South America and the Caribbean) was the area in which most expenditure occurred in 1997-98, with $85 million (22% of total overseas expenditure). Almost the entire amount was spent searching for gold and base metals in this region. Other regions with significant exploration expenditure were Africa with $76 million (representing 20% of total) and North America with $60m (16% of total).

Details of drilling methods used in mineral exploration in Australia during 1997-98 show that reverse circulation drilling was the most common method used, accounting for 38% (4.2 million metres) of the total. This method also accounted for the highest expenditure, contributing 39% ($149 million) of total expenditure for the year. Rotary air blast was the second most common method used with 3.4 million metres (31% of total), but accounted for only 11% of total expenditure.

Details are in Actual and Expected Private Mineral Exploration, Australia, September Quarter 1998 (cat. no. 8412.0) available from ABS bookshops.