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Australia’s mineral exploration expenditure has risen by 11.9 per cent as Victoria achieved a record June quarter of investment.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that total mineral exploration expenditure in Australia reached $683.3 million during the June quarter.

This included a 17.5 per cent rise in expenditure on exploration projects to $67.5 million and a 2.4 per cent rise in expenditure on new deposits to $5.3 million.

The ABS expects short term exploration to be “significantly affected” due to changes to regular patterns as exploration companies work through the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the pandemic did not stop Victoria from having a record quarter for investment in mineral exploration, spending $39.7 million on exploration activities during the June quarter.

This brought Victoria’s total exploration investment for the 2019-20 financial year to $136.5 million, the fourth highest state behind Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales.

Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) executive director James Sorahan said the record month reinforced mining’s outstanding contribution to growing jobs in regional Victoria.

With steady exploration happening in Victoria, the state is aiming to have multiple new gold, base metals and mineral sands mines by the end of the decade.

“Victoria’s rich mineral endowment makes it highly prospective for gold, base metals including copper and mineral sands discoveries,” Sorahan said.

“While Victoria’s minerals industry is associated with the gold rush, there is much more to Victorian mining.

“It is a big part of many regional communities and modern, innovative industry which creates job opportunities for geologists, geophysicists, field samplers, drillers, laboratory personnel and geoscientists across the state.

“Exploration spending also adds to the knowledge of Victoria’s geology and is critical to a pipeline of new mines in the future.”

MCA chief executive Tania Constable also commented on the ABS’ results, stating that attracting new exploration investment to Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery is “essential”.

With an 18 per cent increase in spending on mineral exploration in 2019-20 compared with the previous year, Constable said this showed the mining industry’s growing investment and regional jobs for long-term prosperity.

“The MCA is proud to have led Australia’s minerals industry from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in helping to keep workers, families and local communities safe,” Constable said.

“This has ensured that the Australian minerals industry, including exploration has continued to operate throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic to support jobs, communities and economic recovery while contributing company tax royalties to help fund doctors, nurses, police and hospitals.”