Exploration statistics

Last updated:24 July 2023

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 2022

The ABS released December quarter 2022 mineral exploration expenditure data in March. The 2022 calendar year figures shown below are derived from March, June, September and December 2022 quarterly data. The ABS also reports seasonally adjusted and trend data.

Key Points:

  • Total mineral exploration expenditure for the 2022 calendar year was $4054.9million (Figure 1).
  • Exploration expenditure in and around known deposits (brownfields) was $2,784.6 million and expenditure for undiscovered mineralisation in frontier regions (greenfields) was $1,270.3 million. Brownfields drilling totalled to 8,195,700metres (m) and greenfields drilling totalled 3,504,000 m (Figure 2).
  • Exploration spending by commodity in 2022 was: gold $1,524.4 million, copper $572.6 million, iron ore $715.4 million, silver-lead-zinc $103.2 million, cobalt and nickel $313.2 million, coal $240.1 million, uranium $21.7 million, mineral sands $66.8 million, and spending associated with minor commodities (such as lithium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphate, tin, tungsten and vanadium) $482.6 million (Figure 3).
  • Exploration expenditure by jurisdiction in 2022 was: Western Australia $2,544.8 million, Queensland $553.2 million, South Australia $165.2 million, New South Wales $351.0 million, Northern Territory $198.6 million, Tasmania $40.6 million and Victoria $201.3 million (Figure 4).
  • Western Australia had the largest share of exploration expenditure with 63 per cent of total expenditure.

Figure 1. Total mineral exploration expenditure and drilling

Figure 2. Greenfield and brownfield expenditure and drilling

Figure 3. Exploration expenditure by commodity

Figure 4. Exploration expenditure by jurisdiction