British Columbia can still brag about how beautiful it is, but in terms of drawing investment in mineral exploration, it may no longer be as attractive as it once was. Recent reports offer the mining and exploration sectors some optimism that a four-year-long bear market has ended, although projections are that exploration spending in 2017 will be flat.
Canada has been leading the way in exploration spending, accounting for 14% of the global budget, according to S&P Global’s recent Worldwide Mining Exploration Trends report. But much of that new spending appears to be going to Ontario, Quebec and mining’s new darling – Saskatchewan. B.C. appears to have fallen out of favour with those holding the exploration purse strings.
Of the investment in exploration in Canada during 2016, 41% was in Ontario and Quebec, with gold exploration accounting for 50%. That is telling, because B.C., not Ontario, is the province with the largest significant gold deposits, according to an SNL Metals & Mining report last year.
That report pegs B.C. as the richest region in the world for initial gold resources, estimating the province’s buried wealth at roughly three or four times the size of Ontario’s – yet more money is being spent on gold exploration in Ontario and Quebec.
That trend is likely driven by big gold miners in Ontario and Quebec like Goldcorp (TSX:G) that are putting most of their exploration dollars into brownfield expansion of mature gold mines in Eastern Canada, while junior miners – the ones responsible for most greenfield exploration – have not yet mobilized.
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