December quarter data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) confirms that mineral exploration is growing again in Australia. Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) CEO Simon Bennison said the data showed that mineral exploration expenditure increased by 6.1% to $403 million.

He said the ABS Mineral and Petroleum Exploration release for the December 2016 quarter showed that Western Australia led the growth, with exploration growing by $15 million to $263 million, a 5.9% increase on the September 2016 quarter.

“The key statistics are brownfield versus greenfield exploration. To find the mines of tomorrow, Australia needs to boost its greenfields exploration.

"The good news is that the statistics show Australia’s greenfield mineral exploration increased. Greenfields drilling rose 22%, while drilling in brownfields areas fell by 6% in December 2016 quarter compared to the September 2016 quarter.”

Simon Bennison said while the growth was positive, brownfields drilling remained substantially larger than greenfields, with 1,183,000 metres drilled compared to 659,000 metres in the December 2016 quarter.

“The increase in greenfields mineral exploration is attributable to a number of factors, including improved commodity prices.

"The Federal Government’s Exploration Development Incentive (EDI) could also be having a positive impact on greenfields mineral exploration as intended."

AMEC has called on the Government to rollover the funding for the EDI to 2017/18 and the forward estimates with the aim of increasing investment in greenfields mineral exploration.

“State and Territory exploration incentive schemes/co-funded drilling programs also continue to be crucial in encouraging innovative mineral exploration in Australia, and generate significant economic returns for the economy,” said Simon Bennison.

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