Long term trends in gold exploration (AusIMM talk)

Technical talk to the Melbourne Branch of the AusIMM, 28th November 2019, Melbourne


This is essentially the same talk as that given by me at the 2019 NewGenGold Conference. The only difference is that that I left out a couple of slides discussing how resources “grow” over time (hence the need to make an estimate of the likely unreported discoveries). In its place I added in some extra slides discussing recent trends in exploration in Australia.

In detail the new slides are:

  • Slide 6 gives a detailed breakdown of exploration spend by commodity in Australia for period 1980-2019 in constant A$. This shows that expenditures in 2019 on gold + base exploration in 2019 are approaching that achieved at the height of the minerals boom in 2012. Overall exploration spend is down because of reduced activity in bulk minerals (namely coal and iron ore) .
  • Slide 25 shows the recent trend in exploration “acreage” for Australia. The total area covered by exploration tenements halved between 2011 and 2017 – but has slightly improved in recent times.
  • Slide 26 has a heat-map of Australia that shows the relative change in tenement coverage between Sept 2017 and July 2019. It very neatly shows where the local “hot spots” for exploration activity in Australia. This map was generated by Matt Bruce.
  • Slide 27 talks about one local area that is certain to generate a lot of excitement in the near-term. This is the upcoming release of 1567 km2 package of tenements that surround the Fosterville Gold Mine in central Victoria. This is currently one of the profit/best performing gold operations in the World.
  • Slide 43 showing the median cash reserves and exploration spend for Australian Junior explorers over the period Dec 1998 to June 2019. It shows that cash reserves are currently approaching historic lows. In response (over the last 6 months) companies are cutting back on their field work.

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