Exploration Trends – The current story for Canada

Presentation at the XPLOR 2020 Virtual Conference organised by the QMEA, Montreal, October 2020


The Quebec Mineral Exploration Association (QMEA) holds an Annual Conference each year.  This time around it was held on-line.

My presentation gives a high-level view of exploration expenditures and discoveries for the period 1975-2019 for Canada versus the rest of the World

In summary:

  • Global exploration expenditures peaked at $35.2 billion in 2012 and dropped by 2/3rds by 2017.  It rebounded to $11.9 billion in 2019 and is set to fall to $9.8 billion in 2020 (due to COVID) before rebounding by 30% to $16.9 billion (in constant 2020 US Dollars) by 2030.
  • Over the study period around 4800 significant discoveries were made – an average of 108 per year.  Canada accounted (on average) for 11 of these.
  • On average only 2 to 3 Tier-1 and 9 Tier-2 deposits are found each year.  Collectively they account for 73% of the total value created by the exploration industry.
  • Of concern is that no Tier-1 deposits have been found in the last three years. 
  • Over the last 15 years the exploration industry has switched from creating-value to destroying value.  For the period 201-19 the industry generated only 49 cents of value to Dollar spent on exploration. 
  • The average “bang-per-buck” for Canada was 55 cents.  The best region was Africa – with 102 cents.
  • In Canada the Junior Companies performed better than the Senior Companies (94 cents versus 22 cents) – though the latter’s poor performance may be due to their heavy focus on mine site exploration (on deposits found several decades earlier)
    • It should be noted that these numbers are likely to improve over time – as the analysis ignores the value unreported discoveries and the potential for known deposits to grow in-size (and value) with further drilling.