Exploration spending surges in Australia

June 18, 2012

For the first time in history more than a billion dollars was spent on mineral exploration in Australia in a single quarter. The record was mark was hit when A$1.09 billion was spent exploring Australia in the March quarter.

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan noted in his weekly Treasurer's Economic that, “In fact, exploration expenditure has risen by about 35 percent since a price on carbon pollution was announced, and nearly 80 percent since the Minerals Resources Rent Tax was announced.”

“It’s yet another reality check for those who try to talk down the outlook for our resources sector or make ridiculous claims that important economic reforms are hurting investment,” he stressed.

Beginning on July 1, Australia will levy a controversial carbon tax on 294 firms for the A$23/t ($22.86/st), with mining companies, steel makers and electricity generators among the largest polluters.

Australia is one of the world’s largest per-capita carbon emitters due to its reliance on coal for 85 percent of electricity generation.

“What's often not appreciated is that Asia’s rise will create demand for a lot more than just our iron ore and coal,” said Swan. “That means there will be opportunities for more than just our resources sector.”

Australia's economy grew 1.3 percent in the March quarter, double what economists had anticipated. A major driver was a 19.7 percent increase in engineering construction, mainly in mining. Planned investment in the resources sector reached A$500 billion.

Earlier, Swan noted the strong growth was achieved in spite of a cyclone disrupting iron ore exports from Western Australia. The region’s economy grew by 13.6 perent during the period from March 2011 to March 2012.The Australian government forecast in May that the mining boom will lift economic growth from 3 percent in the current fiscal ending June 30 to 3.25 perent next fiscal year.


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