Northern Territory records highest ever mineral exploration spending of $74.4m

Pile of rare earth minerals.
Pile of rare earth minerals.

The Northern Territory has recorded its highest ever mineral exploration expenditure, with $74.4m spent in the September quarter.

This figure is up 30% from the same quarter last year and surpasses the previous record of $71.6m set in the September 2011 quarter.

Notably, the Northern Territory’s 30% increase was much higher than the Australia-wide increase of 5%.

Mineral exploration in the Territory for 2023 is currently on track to be the highest calendar year expenditure on record.

Northern Territory Mining Minister Nicole Manison commented on the growth.

“These latest figures show the world is quickly transitioning to renewable energy — and the Territory’s critical minerals are in high demand,” she said.

“The Territory’s resources sector, both in exploration and production, is a significant driver of the Territory’s economy — currently contributing close to a quarter of the Territory’s gross state product.”

Demand for critical minerals, such as lithium and rare earths, is driving the growth, accounting for $37.8m in exploration spending.

The Northern Territory has 15 internationally recognised critical minerals and has the geological potential for a further 13.

As part of the Northern Territory Government’s support for critical minerals exploration, $3.7m in grants were awarded to 38 projects as part of round 16 of the Geophysics and Drilling Collaborators grants program.

This is part of the $9.5m Resourcing the Territory initiative, which is the largest and longest-term investment ever made by a Territory Government to support resource exploration and development.