Spending on mineral exploration in Western Australia last year topped a record $1billion and accounted for half of Australia’s exploration expenditure.
Resources Minister Francis Logan said figures released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirmed WA’s position as an international mining hotspot.
“It was a bumper year for mineral exploration in 2007 and Western Australians will continue to see the benefits of these efforts for many years to come,” Mr Logan said.
“As well as cementing our place as Australia’s premier state for mining exploration, WA recorded a massive jump of 51 per cent in exploration expenditure last year.”
Exploration in the December quarter reached $290million - another new record.
Spending on iron ore exploration exceeded gold for the first time in WA during the December quarter.
“The figures show a continuing optimistic outlook for mineral exploration expenditure in WA during the first half of 2008,” the Minister said.
“The high iron ore prices that have been negotiated earlier this year are expected to keep this important sector buoyant, but the global credit squeeze and fears of a US recession provide a potential storm on the horizon.”
The ABS figures also show petroleum exploration expenditure in WA and adjacent Commonwealth waters was also a record $1.9billion in 2007, up 50 per cent on 2006 and accounting for 72 per cent of the Australian total.
Mr Logan said he was also pleased to report that the backlog of tenement applications awaiting determination had fallen from 18,823 to 16,506 in the 12 months to February 2008.
“The Department of Industry and Resources is committed to clearing up the backlog and has received $3.5million in funding to employ more staff for this purpose,” he said.
“They have already processed a record number of applications and are working hard to meet the increased number of tenement applications, that have been lodged due to the high level of interest in mineral exploration in WA.”
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