Exploration Statistics

Geoscience Australia produces quarterly and annual reports on exploration spending produced using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The statistics cover exploration expenditure, brownfields and greenfields & drilling distances and expenditure, and expenditure via commodity type and jurisdiction.

Australian Mineral Exploration Expenditure for 2018–19

The ABS released June quarter 2019 mineral exploration expenditure data in September. The 2018–19 financial year figures shown below are derived from September and December 2018, and March and June 2019, quarterly data. The ABS also reports seasonally adjusted and trend data.

Key Points:

  • Total mineral exploration expenditure for the 2020 calendar year was $2792.8 million (Figure 1).
  • Exploration expenditure in and around known deposits (brownfields) was $1836.5 million and expenditure for undiscovered mineralisation in frontier regions greenfields) was $956.2 million. Brownfields drilling totalled to 6,900,400 metres (m) and greenfields drilling totalled 3,729,800 m (Figure 2).
  • Exploration spending by commodity in 2020 was: gold $1301.9 million, copper $333.1 million, iron ore $395.5 million, silver-lead-zinc $51.3 million, cobalt and nickel $181.2 million, coal $289.4 million, uranium $6.7 million, mineral sands $36.5 million, and spending associated with minor commodities (such as lithium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphate, tin, tungsten and vanadium) $193.8 million (Figure 3).
  • Exploration expenditure by jurisdiction in 2020 was: Western Australia $1743.1 million, Queensland $407.4 million, South Australia $80.2 million, New South Wales $287.8 million, Northern Territory $110.8 million, Tasmania $10.8 million and Victoria $152.5 million (Figure 4).
  • Western Australia had the largest share of exploration expenditure with 62 per cent of total expenditure.