Australian Bureau of Statistics
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004
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Exploration involves the search for new ore occurrences or undiscovered oil or gas, and/or appraisal intended to delineate or greatly extend the limits of known deposits of minerals or oil or gas reservoirs by geological, geophysical, geochemical, drilling or other methods. This includes construction of shafts and adits primarily for exploration purposes, but excludes activity of a developmental or production nature.
Most of the expenditure between 1997-98 and 2001-02 was related to exploration for gold, as shown in table 16.11. In this period, gold exploration expenditure accounted for 52-63% of total mineral exploration expenditure. Its decline from $648m to $331m (down 49%) was the main contributing factor to the fall in mineral exploration expenditure. The long-term decline in gold prices was the principal reason for the decrease in gold exploration expenditure. Expenditure on selected base metals also fell by $94m (42%) while expenditure on uranium fell by 61%, the largest fall recorded for this period. Exploration expenditure for mineral sands increased by 137%, growing steadily over the period.
Table 16.12 shows the overseas exploration expenditure reported in the Minerals Industry Surveys undertaken by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) for 1997-98 to 2001-02. The surveys cover Australian mining companies, and some overseas controlled companies. Findings from these surveys indicate total overseas exploration expenditure by Australian businesses had been falling after reaching its peak in 1996-97 when $506m was spent. Between 1997-98 and 2001-02, expenditure fell by 71%. This mainly reflected the fall in exploration expenditure for gold and platinum which accounted for most of the overseas exploration expenditure in the earlier years. By 2001-02, expenditure overseas on gold and platinum exploration, was only 19% of the level achieved in 1997-98. Gold and platinum's share of total overseas exploration expenditure declined from 53% in 1997-98 to 34% in 2001-02, below base metals' share of 39%.
Over the period 1997-98 to 2001-02, expenditure on petroleum exploration fell by 3.9% ($36m) in spite of a sharp upsurge of 46% ($324m) in 2000-01 (table 16.13). This overall decline was due to a decrease in onshore expenditure of 29% ($68m). With offshore exploration expenditure increasing by 4.7%, onshore exploration's share of total expenditure fell from 25% in 1997-98 to 19% in 2001-02.
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