A rebound in exploration by global miners could see spending hit $18 billion by 2025 with China the front runner in the search for a new generation of giant discoveries.
Exploration budgets are rising after they plunged to an 11-year low of about $10 billion last year as mining companies slashed costs in the wake of a collapse in prices, according to Richard Schodde, managing director of Melbourne-based MinEx Consulting Pty, an industry adviser.
“We are coming out of the bottom of the cycle. I actually see the opportunity for the exploration sector to regain its mojo and quickly deliver a pipeline of good discoveries,” Schodde said in an e-mailed response to questions. “It’s catch-up time for the industry.”
China, the top spender on exploration, is likely to continue to dominate in the hunt for new deposits, while Canada and Ecuador are currently among hot targets for more investment by miners, according to Schodde. The U.S. could be poised for a rise in exploration with President Donald Trump regarded as likely to be more favorable toward resource development, S&P Global Market Intelligence said in a report published in January.
Discoveries of so-called tier one projects, deposits with a net present value of more than $1 billion, have stalled. Only 12 were uncovered in the past decade compared to an average of two to three a year since 1950, according to MinEx. The average cost of finding a significant mineral deposit has tripled in the last 10 years to about $238 million, the consultancy said in a March 6 presentation.
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