Bleak outlook

5 September 2016

According to the June 2016 quaterly report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, investments in the exploration of new mineral deposits continue to decline.

Mineral exploration other than petroleum

After having reached a record $1 billion in 2012, the ABS trend estimate indicates that exploration spending was down to $343 million in the 2016 June quarter. This is back to where it was ten years ago, and 4% lower than in the 2015 June quarter.

The chart is based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics

However, the seasonally adjusted figure looks somewhat friendlier, showing a slight rise of 1% or $3.5 million to $345.2 million for the 2016 June quarter (absolute terms expenditure rose by 22% to $354 million).

The picture also varies from state to state, with Queensland and South Australia being hardest hit by the downturn.

The ABS trend estimate reports for Queensland a decrease of almost 40% or $26 million from the 2015 June quarter, and a staggering 80% or $228 million from the June quarter four years ago.

South Australia also suffered strong falls, with spending down almost 84% from four years ago. However, the June 2016 quarterly results indicate a trend reversal, with spending up 13% or $1.6 million from the previous quarter.

Petroleum exploration

Australia's petroleum exploration expenditure is in steep decline, after it had reached $1.2 billion based on ABS trend estimates.

Graph shows data for selected states; gaps indicate data not publicly available. The chart is based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics;

In the 2016 June quarter this was down to $318.4 million, after investments again fell by 19.4% (30.8% seasonally adjusted) from the previous quarter.

Western Australia accounts for most Australia's petroleum exploration expenditure ($254.5 million) and also its decline, with investments again falling 14.9% or $44.6 million in the 2016 June quarter.

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