Australia remains the second-largest nonferrous exploration destination, with a reported budget of over US$897 million, representing 13% of the world's total exploration budget for 2016. Although Australia's budget fell 16% year over year, it was a less dramatic fall than the 22% global decline in exploration budgets. Canada remains the main exploration destination, with a budget of US$971 million in 2016, with the U.S. in third place with almost US$500 million.
Australia is showing encouraging signs of recovery so far this year, as financing in the March quarter soared 128% year over year, from US$278.5 million in the 2016 first quarter to US$634.4 million in the first quarter of 2017. Financing for the second half of 2016 was also up, by 201% compared to the same half in 2015, increasing to US$1.8 billion from under US$598 million.
Drilling activity also continues to surge, reaching its highest level in the March 2017 quarter since at least 2014. In terms of the number of holes drilled with significant drill intervals, gold is typically the most targeted commodity. However, specialty metals accounted for a larger portion of drilling targets in the first quarter of 2017, largely due to an increased focus on drilling for lithium.
Looking at the in situ value of reserves and resources in Australia, coal and iron ore represented the highest values at about US$13.4 trillion and US$10.1 trillion, respectively. Queensland is the key contributor for coal in terms of resource value, while Western Australia leads the way for iron ore.
Multiplying the 2016 as-reported, aggregated commodity production with the 2016 average commodity spot price, iron ore was the most valuable commodity produced for that year with nearly US$36.81 billion in calculated revenue, followed by gold at US$10.89 billion. Calculating mined revenue using the same average prices and Australian production estimates from S&P Global Market Intelligence yields even higher values of $US45.8 billion and $US11.31 billion, respectively.
Copper is the commodity with the highest amount of announced capital spending in Australia since 2015, with announced costs totaling US$2.5 billion, boosted by two sizable announced plans in 2017.
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Use our Estimated Production Template to view standardized calendar-year production estimates at the asset, country and global level for current and future years. Details on recovery rates, processing and mill head grades by asset are also included.