One of the most worrying implications of the current mining downturn for the future of the industry is the significant drop in exploration activity. Of course, without ongoing exploration the pipeline of projects for future development will dry up - a concern not only for the industry but for the Australian economy overall. After several years of limited capital for mining, especially for explorers, drilling companies are really suffering. The positive news is that costs of drilling are significantly lower now than a few years ago and there are no issues around availability of drill rigs. We have seen a number of drilling companies prepared to drill for project equity - not a sustainable business model but very helpful for explorers in the short term, enabling them to progress and add value to projects with limited funds. As a result, whilst exploration expenditure has fallen, metres drilled is only slightly down - you have to take the good news where you can at the moment!