Miners now going for gold as exploration for coal slumps 20 per cent

Mining is going through a significant revival with profits booming and exploration spending in Queensland at levels not seen for seven years.

Aug 31, 2021, updated Aug 31, 2021
Demand for gold jumped in the last financial year

Demand for gold jumped in the last financial year

But coal appears to have been dropped despite demand for it and iron ore spiking and prices hitting records during the last financial year.

Profits for Australia’s mining sector also jumped 18 per cent last financial year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the search for new mines also boomed for most commodities.

Queensland’s total exploration expenditure for the past financial year jumped 11 percent to reach $708 million, a rise of $120 million 2019-2020, which was the strongest result since 2014-15.

The big demand was for gold and copper, according to Queensland Exploration Council’s chair Kim Wainwright.

She said gold exploration jumped 43 per cent jump and copper exploration rose 20 per cent compared with 2019-20.

Minerals’ exploration expenditure experienced a more modest rise, increasing by 2 per cent year-on-year to reach $412 million. Selected base metals expenditure – which includes copper, silver, lead, zine, nickel and cobalt – was up 10 per cent on 2019-20, although coal exploration expenditure fell by 20 percent.

Wainwright said despite the fall in coal expenditure, the recent surge in metallurgical and thermal coal prices and a two per cent increase in the June quarter exploration expenditure were signs of better news to come.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said very strong September and March quarters had more than made up for a slight drop in expenditure in the June quarter.

“These latest figures show our explorers have managed to continue to expand their exploration programs over the past 12 months in spite of Covid-19’s impact on their ability to recruit skilled workers and source equipment from overseas and interstate,” he said.

“This demonstrates the continuing strength and ingenuity of the resources sector, which benefits every Queenslander in terms of job opportunities and our industry’s ongoing economic contribution to the state Budget.”


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