Mining exploration and development companies are expected to spend about $297 million in Saskatchewan in 2013, down from $324 million in 2012, according to preliminary estimates released by the Saskatchewan Geological Survey.
This year’s expenditure estimate “reflects the difficulty many junior companies continue to have in raising exploration capital,” said the report, which was released at the Saskatchewan Geological Survey’s open house in Saskatoon Tuesday.
Expenditures for mineral exploration and evaluation projects in Saskatchewan in 2013 are also expected to be lower than the $293 million spent in 2011 and the $321 million in 2010.
“Despite the decrease, exploration spending in Saskatchewan continues to be well above historic levels,” the report said. “In the past decade over $2.7 billion has been spent on exploration and evaluation programs, a dramatic increase when compared to the total $674.5 million spent in the 20 years previous.”
The bulk of this year’s spending will be on potash and uranium projects, but there were also significant expenditures on gold, base metal, diamond, coal, platinum group metal (PGM), and rare earth element (REE) projects, the report added. “The continued interest in Saskatchewan’s mining industry is due to the province’s diverse geology, which hosts a variety of metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits.”
The amount of land under disposition for mineral exploration totalled 7.5 million hectares, 25 per cent higher than the same period last year. The increase is mainly due to staking around the recent discoveries of uranium at Patterson Lake South and kimberlite north of Deschambault Lake, the report said.
There were also 4.4 million hectares of land under disposition for potash exploration and development. The total amount of land under exploration, including mineral, potash, coal, alkali and quarry dispositions, was 12.1 million hectares, or 18.6 per cent of the province.
Almost $116 million was spent on uranium exploration in 2012, with a further $122.2 million in expenditures anticipated in 2013. But fewer junior companies are currently active in the province after a period of consolidation, the report said.
Estimated expenditures for gold exploration programs in 2013 are about $7.5 million, down from actual expenditures of $13.1 million in 2011 and $10.5 million in 2011. “The decline in spending is likely a reflection in the nearly 25 per cent drop in the value of the commodity from a year ago,” the report said.
Base metal exploration expenditures are expected to be nearly $10 million in 2013, down from actual expenditures of $13 million in 2012 and $13.3 million in 2011.
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