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Exploration budgets in the Australian mining industry have risen by 15 per cent to a seven-year high last year, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The budget increased for the third consecutive year from 2018 to 2019 by almost $US200 million ($306 million) to $US1.53 billion.

Western Australia maintained its 63 per cent share of Australia’s total budget year on year, with a 15 per cent (or $US122 million) climb on 2018.

Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory took second place with an exploration budget of $US100 million to $199.9 million.

Australia’s exploration buoyancy contrasts with most other regions, which have reduced their investment in exploration, according to S&P Global.

Gold budgets made up 56 per cent of Australia’s total budgets after a 14 per cent increase year on year to $US853 million in 2019.

Copper, an essential ingredient for electric vehicle parts, also received a significant bump and reached a five-year high. Its budgets soared by 37 per cent year on year to $US272 million in 2019.

Following after gold and copper are nickel, zinc-lead, triuranium octoxide, diamonds and platinum group metals, which raked in the largest exploration budgets in Australia, according to S&P Global.

“While mine site exploration allocations dominate, the largest increases in dollar terms and share of country total were in allocations to grassroots exploration budgets, up 31 per cent to $US467 million,” the intelligence provider stated.

Junior companies’ share, however, plunged to an 18-year low of 40 per cent last year.

This reflects a 4 per cent decrease, despite still retaining their position as Australia’s dominant budgets spender since 2002.