Indonesia’s Discovery Performance

Online presentation given at Indonesia’s Explorer-Developer Collegium (IEDC), Jakarta, August 2022


This two-day Collegium was organised by the Indonesian Society of Economic Geologists (MGEI).

This presentation builds on an updates a similar presentation I gave at the MGEI Annual Conference in 2016.

The key findings of the current presentation are:

  • Global exploration spend in 2021 was $15.3b, up 20% from $12.7b in 2016 (all in constant June 2022 US Dollars). Over the same period Indonesia’s exploration expenditures in Indonesia rose from $130m to $186m … up 43% in real terms
  • Over the last decade (2011-2020) a total of $3.2 billion was spent on exploration in Indonesia – making up 1.5% of global exploration spend. this is down from a high of 5.8% back in 1996 (just prior to when news of the Bre-X scandal broke)
  • Over the last decade 15 significant deposits have been found in Indonesia (not counting an estimated 2 additional unreported discoveries) – making up 1.7% of the global total
  • The most important recent discovery is the giant Tier-1 Hu’u copper-gold discovery by Vale in 2015. As at Dec 31 2021 the reported resource was 2057 Mt @ 0.84% Cu + 0.50 g/t Au = 17.3 Mt Cu + 32.7 Moz Au
  • MinEx estimates the total value created from exploration in Indonesia over the last decade to be around $4.1 billion – giving a value/cost ratio (or “Bang-per-Buck”) of 1.30. As shown in Figure 1 below, Indonesia’s discovery performance is twice that of the global average (of 0.64) – suggesting that it is one of the best performing countries in the World

FIGURE 1 : Exploration expenditures and Performance by Region : 2011-2020

  • Given that Indonesia is part of the Pacific / SE Asian Region, leaving it out highlights that the other countries in the Region collectively performed very poorly
  • At the Regional scale, Australia was the best performing location in the World, followed by Eastern Europe

It should be emphasised that over half of the exploration value created in Indonesia in the last decade came from just one discovery – Hu’u. If it hadn’t been found, the country’s performance would have been comparable to the global average.

The huge value associated with Hu’u shows the importance to the industry of exploring for (and finding and developing) Tier-1 deposits