The amount of capital invested in mining exploration in Saskatchewan this year will mirror last year’s total of $236 million, says Gary Delaney, chief geologist with the province’s Ministry of the Economy.
“Most of the focus is between potash and uranium, but we will see a few million in gold and I suspect we might see a little more optimism in the diamond area,” said Delaney, who spoke at the fourth annual Saskatchewan Mining conference Thursday in Saskatoon.
The ministry conducts a survey to see how much was spent last year and what people are planning to spend this year (estimated at $234.6 million). That ranks Saskatchewan fourth in mining exploration expenditures in Canada.
Spending in 2014 will be split fairly evenly between juniors (who don’t have production) and major producers, he said. It has been a rough few years for junior miners trying to raise capital. Between 2012 and 2013, the amount of money junior companies were able to raise dropped by 50 per cent. “These are pretty rough times,” Delaney said.
Uranium There are bright spots, like the Patterson Lake South uranium discovery by Fission and Alpha Minerals in the Athabasca Basin. Companies with stakes in that area have been able to raise money.
Delaney said the large amount spent on uranium exploration is quite healthy considering the price of the commodity is depressed (with spot prices in the $30 range).
“This reflects two things,” Delaney said. “There is interest in Saskatchewan because we have these very high grade deposits like McArthur River and Cigar Lake … And there has also been a shift in the exploration paradigm with the Patterson Lake South discovery.
“Uranium prices are still under pressure, but people are looking for those high grade quality projects and Saskatchewan certainly has that.”
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