Amid a global trend of increasing exploration expenditure, China has emerged as the country that spends more on exploration activities than any other country in the world, MinEx Consulting MD Richard Schodde said on Wednesday.
“To be fair, however, around half of this is for bulk minerals,” he said during an address at the Geological Society of South Africa’s 2013 GeoForum conference.
This came as Canada, Australia and the US’s market shares had halved in the last 20 years, despite global exploration expenditure hitting an all-time high of $29.4-billion in 2012 alone. China’s spend accounted for around 14% of this amount.
While gold remained the primary target, Schodde had observed a major increase in spending associated with bulk minerals, which had accompanied a shift from exploration in developed countries to developing ones.
He added that growing exploration spend was driven by commodity prices, emphasising that there was a strong correlation between the gold price and exploration spend.
“Essentially, if the gold price goes up, exploration goes up,” he commented.
Looking ahead, however, Schodde expected exploration expenditure to dramatically decrease in the coming years, anticipating a 35% contraction to $19-billion in 2020.
“While this may change if commodity or gold prices shift, at the moment, it’s a gloomy exploration forecast in direct response to a gloomy price expectation,” he said.
While uranium exploration spend was expected to increase by the greatest margin over the next six years, gold exploration would decrease most dramatically in response to a weakened value for the yellow metal.
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