A strong outlook for gold and battery-material metals such as vanadium and cobalt are driving high demand for North Queensland drilling services, according to Eagle Drilling NQ general manager Sally Forgan.
Ms Forgan expects the company to boost its workforce by about 25 per cent to meet demand in 2020.
She was commenting after the latest Queensland Exploration Council (QEC) Scorecard, showing 58 percent of explorers planned to increase expenditure and 92 percent of drilling companies forecasting similar or increased spending over the next 12 months.
“I think (the experience in North Queensland) is on trend with what the QEC has been speaking about and the Australian Drilling Industry Association (ADIA), which has published lately the trends in exploration and what’s been happening there,” she said.
Ms Forgan said Eagle Drilling NQ had been taking advantage of the increased business to upgrade its older fleet.
The challenge was finding people with the right attitude to bring into the business to keep building its skills base, she said.
While the recent figures for mineral exploration trends have been positive, Ms Forgan said the mood in the industry was one of caution.
“I would say people are still cautious and rightly so. We are too, because it has been a pretty tough six years for all of us in the mineral industry – so we are being cautious but definitely taking the extra work with open arms.”
The Australian Drilling Industry Association recently highlight the upward trend in exploration Australia-wide.
Australian Bureau of Statistics mineral exploration data for the September quarter showed another increase in expenditure from the previous quarter, and a 21.4 per cent increase compared to the same time last year.
The ADIA said the figures showed metres drilled had not changed significantly despite the increase in exploration spending. It attributed this to a shift to more drilling in greenfields areas, which can be more expensive.