Ending years of cuts, miners are exploring again: cautiously – by James Regan (Reuters U.S. – February 1, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

SYDNEY – After years of cutting budgets and squeezing existing mines, global mining giants are again scouting for new deposits: industry analysts say 2017 will see the first increase in spending on exploration in five years.

Exploration spending came under pressure when commodity prices tumbled and investors pushed miners to be less profligate, especially on large new projects and in untested locations. Spending last year was down two-thirds from a 2012 peak of $21.5 billion, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

But mining companies say that is now changing as supply concerns return, market prices recover and deals for top-tier, low-risk mines in key commodities remain elusive.

S&P forecasts more will be spent this year in safe-bet countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia, where operating risks are lower and technology is cutting-edge.

The focus is on commodities like copper, which could slip into deficit, and on technology – to allow mining companies to find more faster, and with fewer people.

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