From Canada’s Yukon to southern Patagonia, outbreaks of gold-rush fever are popping up as bullion markets stage a tentative recovery.
The number of holes drilled at gold deposits has been rising steadily for more than a year, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. And while early-stage exploration budgets haven’t kept pace with spending at existing mines, prospecting hot spots are starting to pop up in traditional destinations Canada, Australia and Latin America.
In some parts of Argentina, exploration has jumped about 50 percent, mainly for lithium but also for gold in provinces such as Santa Cruz, according to state-controlled energy company YPF SA. Chile’s government also sees a pickup this year with prospectors focusing on both copper and gold. Colombia is also attracting more attention.
Drilling successes are adding to the interest. Aurion Resources Ltd. shares have more than tripled since Feb. 1 when it announced a discovery in northern Finland, while SolGold Plc has risen 12-fold in the past year as it drilled out a copper and gold find in Ecuador. This week’s $431 million deal between Eldorado Gold Corp. and Integra Gold Corp. is the latest acquisition driven by a need to secure new ounces.
“We need more exploration in the industry; it’s been such a long downturn,” Mark Ferguson, head of mining studies at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said in a phone interview from Halifax, Nova Scotia. “A lot of producers are going to start facing medium-term shortfalls in their pipeline if they’re not replacing the reserves that they’re actively mining.”
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