Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that the Northern Territory was Australia’s preferred destination for mineral exploration in the July to September quarter.
According to the report, the Territory boasts the strongest growth in mineral exploration expenditure for the September quarter which far surpasses the nation-wide average.
Mines and Energy Minister David Tollner said mineral exploration expenditure in the NT for the September quarter was $33.4 million, a 22% increase from the same period a year earlier.
“In comparison Australia-wide exploration was down 14% on the same quarter last year, with South Australia showing a decrease of 57%,” Mr Tollner said in a media statement.
He said the Northern Territory had 10% of all Australian non-coal mineral exploration expenditure in Australia (up from 6% in 2013), with greenfield exploration up 53% on the same quarter last year ($11.9 million in total).
“The most encouraging news is the ongoing trend in increasing greenfields exploration expenditure in the NT (exploration in new areas away from known deposits) with a year-to-date increase of 45% over 2014,” Mr Tollner said.
“The NT is the only jurisdiction reporting a significant increase in greenfields expenditure this year with Australia as a whole down 19%.”
ABS data also revealed that gold and base metals exploration had their strongest quarter in the NT since 2012, and uranium exploration had its strongest quarter in terms of expenditure since 2011.
“Our strong performance relative to the rest of Australia, particularly for greenfields exploration, suggests the Territory Government’s CORE initiative is delivering on its aims of making the Territory a preferred destination for exploration,” Mr Tollner said.
The CORE initiative stimulates greenfields exploration by providing new geoscience data and information that highlights the Territory’s geological potential, as well as reducing the risk and cost of exploring in the Territory relative to other jurisdictions.
Mr Tollner said that as part of CORE, the Department of Mines and Energy has been providing a stimulus to greenfields exploration by co-funding selected drilling programs to encourage industry to get into new areas and test new exploration concepts in areas with little previous exploration.
“The Territory is in a highly competitive environment for attracting exploration investment during these difficult times for the global mining industry,” the Minister added.
“Having increased greenfields exploration not only supports regional economies in the short term, it is also fundamental to the growth and diversification of our mining industry so it can continue to be one of the main drivers of the Territory economy.”