Iron ore tops Australia's exploration spending list
Saturday, 18 February 2012 | 00:00
Capital spending to find more iron ore in Australia -- already the world's top supplier -- rose 27 percent in the last fiscal year and topped the list of exploration spending in the mineral-rich country, government figures showed on Friday.
Iron ore currently sells for around $135 a tonne to China, the world's top buyer of the steel-making commodity, fuelled by mass urbanisation, and only costs about $20 to $30 a tonne to mine in Australia.
Australia alone provides almost half of China's iron ore imports, with BHP Billiton , Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group the main suppliers.
Out of total minerals exploration expenditure close to A$3 billion ($3.21 billion) in the year to end-June 2011, A$665 million was spent exploring for iron ore, the Australian Mineral Exploration Review 2011 showed.
Spending on gold exploration rose 13 percent to A$652 million and expenditure on coal was up 62 percent at A$520 million year-on-year, according to the report.
Australia is the world's largest supplier of metallurgical coal used in steel making and the no. 2 producer of gold behind China.
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