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Gold and silver have attracted almost half of Australia’s exploration expenditure in the June quarter of 2021, according to a report from Austex.

In its June quarter report, the independent analyst found more than $324 million was spent on exploring gold and silver resources, while $514 million was raised in such efforts.

The report found national exploration expenditure was at a record $699 million for the quarter, up 34 per cent on the March quarter and 69 per cent on the June quarter of 2020.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) chief executive officer Warren Pearce said it was promising to see how resilient the industry had been through COVID-19.

“It’s an exciting time in the exploration industry right now. This time last year we were worried about how the industry would operate under the COVID-19 related travel restrictions that were required to keep communities safe,” Pearce said.

“The industry not only adapted but is thriving.

“Exploration is at the core of the industry, and the continued growth in expenditure is a great sign for Australia as more projects means more jobs, more revenue and more opportunities.”

Of the $699 million spent, 57 per cent was kept in Australia, while 43 per cent was spent overseas. The report stated this ratio was around 50:50, pre-COVID-19.

Among the states of Australia, Western Australia was the leader in exploration expenditure, with $261 million spent within its borders.

Queensland followed in second with 9.5 per cent of the country’s total.

Queensland Exploration Council (QEC) chair Kim Wainwright said it was great to see an increase of 155 per cent in Australian exploration expenditure over the past five years.

“The data confirm the strong growth we saw in the latest ABS exploration figures released last month, which was the first time we’ve been able to look at how the  exploration  industry has performed over a 12-month period since the onset of COVID from June 2021 on the ABS exploration expenditure data,” Wainwright said.

“Overall, this national data shows the exploration industry is once again thriving and we look forward to seeing continued growth for Queensland explorers.”

In Victoria, gold continued to be the hero with production up almost 40 per cent, according to the Victorian Resource Indicators Report 2019-20.

The spike in gold production can be highly attributed to Kirkland Lake Gold’s “best year ever” at its Fosterville gold mine in Victoria.

Fosterville produced 350,000 ounces of gold in the second half of 2019, easily beating its production targets.

Minster for Resources Jaclyn Symes detailed Victoria’s strength in comparison to previous years.

“Minerals exploration expenditure, a measure of industry confidence and a precursor to future mining investment, remains at a record high, increasing 33 per cent from 2018-19,” Symes said.

The state has 16 major projects are in the pipeline with a potential value above $6.6 billion, according to the Victorian Resource Indicators Report 2019-20.

Minerals Council of Australia executive director James Sorahan said prioritising the state’s resources would ensure its people continued to prosper.

“While mining has been important in Victoria’s past, modern mining is a critical growth industry with the potential to build more diverse regional economies and create the highly paid, highly skilled full-time jobs needed to sustain regional Victorian economies and communities,” Sorahan said.