Global Discovery Trends 1950-2009: What, Where and Who found them

Presentation on Exploration Discovery Panel Discussion Session at PDAC, Toronto, March 2010

PDAC 2010 held a special panel session looking at the factors behind the decline in the industry’s exploration performance.

My contribution to it was to identify the long term trends in the numbers, size , quality and location of mineral discoveries in the world over the last 60 years.

Key observations were:

  • Exploration comes in waves. Uranium and Base Metal discoveries were a key feature of the exploration scene in the 1960s and 70’s. In the last couple of decades Gold has become much more important
  • In spite of the intense efforts on gold exploration, over the last decade the industry has not found enough to replace the ounces mined. This is not sustainable.
  • At present, Gold makes up 60-80% of all major discoveries
  • In the case of Copper, most of the metal (and the value) is captured in a handful of giant deposits
  • The Junior Sector now accounts for over half of all major discoveries made each year. By comparison, in the 1970s they accounted for only a quarter of major discoveries.
    • The location of discoveries moves around the world as new provinces open up and as business risks change.
    • Exploration is a high risk/ high reward game – on average, only five to ten Tier 1 and 2 discoveries are made each year around the world. Of these only one or two are truly world-class.

    Return to Publications