PREVIEW-With money in their pockets, prospects improve for small miners – by Susan Taylor and Rod Nickel (Daily Mail/Reuters – March 6, 2017)

TORONTO, March 3 (Reuters) – As mineral and metal prices have rebounded from a slump, so have the fortunes of small miners, and some industry experts are predicting even better times, ahead of the industry’s biggest conference for explorers and developers.

Brighter prospects will be in focus at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s conference in Toronto, Sunday through Wednesday. The world’s top miners are increasingly investing in exploration companies early on, taking “toehold” minority stakes to boost their odds of success.

“Majors have gutted their own exploration departments,” said Theophile Yameogo, mining and metals advisory leader at consultant EY Canada. “They don’t want to do leap-of-faith drilling.”

After three years of declines, the world’s junior miners showed a 7.4 percent uptick in equity financing to $7.29 billion in 2016, according to Thomson Reuters data.
They raised another $1.25 billion in January and February, well above $466.6 million a year earlier.

Supply constraints and healthy demand have lifted prices for several base metals. Copper, for example, touched a 20-month high of $6,204 a tonne in February, while zinc jumped from below $1,600 a tonne to $2,860 over the last year.

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