Exploration drilling has taken off since the COVID-19 pandemic.

A raft of measures by the Federal and state governments to increase mineral exploration, along with the advent of smart technology, have come together to create a conducive environment for increased exploration drilling.

One such company experiencing this wave is mining technology company IMDEX, which develops cloud-connected sensors and drilling products that provide critical information in real-time.

The number of cloud-connected instruments it rents out reached a record high in 2020, specifically its IMDEX HUB IQTM cloud-based technology and software.

IMDEX chief executive Paul House says strong mining fundamentals supported a return to pre-COVID-19 business levels.

“We are still experiencing record high numbers on rent and record plans by our customers – drillers and resources companies – to keep drilling as much as possible,” he said.

“The confidence for drilling and resource companies to navigate any issues around a possible second wave is increasingly clear, and we expect business to continue strongly into 2021 and 2022.

“The positive within this COVID world, if there is one, is that we are seeing an increased demand for innovation and technology in the mining sector.

“This is a trend that has been well underway leading up to COVID and, certainly, COVID has accelerated that.”

IMDEX invests about $25m a year on research and development for technologies and software.

Mineral exploration activity reached a five-year high in WA with figures for July and August 2020 showing a 63% increase on the monthly average, according to data from the WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

Latest figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that total expenditure for mineral exploration rose 6.1% in the September quarter to reach $702.1m, with gold exploration accounting for half the total at $356.1m.

Mineral exploration spending in Victoria reached a record high of $39.7m in the June 2020 quarter.