Exploration expenditure at highest levels since 2011


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the mineral and petroleum exploration expenditure figures for the June 2022 and 2021/22 financial year.

Mineral exploration expenditure in NT 

Mineral exploration expenditure for the June 2022 quarter was $51.0 million, up 26% on the same quarter in 2021 and the highest quarterly expenditure recorded in the NT for any quarter since 2011.

Mineral exploration expenditure for the 2021/22 financial year was $171.5 million, up 34% on the figure of $128.3 million for 2020/21. This is the highest annual figure since 2011/12, and the third highest on record. The 34% rise in expenditure in the NT was higher than the Australia-wide increase of 22%.

Overall, the Territory’s share of Australian mineral exploration expenditure increased from 4.28% to 4.47% in 2021/22. Around 37% of the Territory’s mineral exploration was for greenfields exploration away from existing deposits, higher than the national average of 32%.

In the past twelves months, there has been a noticeable shift in the commodities being explored. While expenditure on gold exploration declined by 11% from $76.5 million in 2020/21 to $68.2 million in 2021/22, exploration for 'other' commodities (including lithium, rare earths and other critical minerals) increased by 83% to $66.6 million in 2021/22. Exploration for base metals was also strong.

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Petroleum exploration expenditure in the NT

Petroleum exploration expenditure for 2021/22 was $185.2 million, up 103% on the 2020/21 figure of $91.3 million. In the June 2022 quarter expenditure was $37.3 million. The ABS do not provide a breakdown of offshore vs onshore for petroleum expenditure in the NT.

Nationally, petroleum exploration expenditure for the 2021/22 financial year was $1.15 billion, up 15% on 2020.

For further information view Minerals and Oil and Gas.