WA led a national rise in mineral exploration in the September quarter, pointing to further confidence in the resources sector and the broader State economy.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the seasonally adjusted estimate for mineral exploration rose 4.8 per cent to $673.7 million in the three months to the end of September, with WA the biggest contributor (up $28.5 million, or 7.2 per cent, to $425.6 million).

In actual terms, exploration expenditure in WA has been increasing all year, from $319.5 million in the March quarter to $415.1 million in the June quarter and $456.3 million in the recent quarter.

Meanwhile, an 8 per cent national rise for total petroleum exploration expenditure to $352.8 million on a trend basis was led by a 12 per cent ($22.9 million) jump in WA to $214.4 million.

WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the figures indicated the strength of the State’s resources sector.

“These increases in exploration investment indicate that WA is a State where you can get things done,” he said.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive Warren Pearce said exploration continued to rise and the steady increases every quarter showed the industry was committed to finding new mines with jobs, royalties and benefits for the local community.

“It has been a challenging investment environment for mineral exploration companies, however the statistics show that companies are finding ways to continue funding exploration programs.”

Mr Pearce said growth in greenfields exploration in most States reflected the returning strength of the exploration sector.

Greenfields exploration in WA showed a growing trend, with $125.5 million spent in the March quarter, $183.9 million in the June quarter and $204.1 million in the September quarter.