Trends in Exploration

Presentation at the IMARC Conference, Melbourne, October 2019


The presentation provides a high-level overview of the general trends for mineral exploration (both bulk minerals as well as base and precious metals) in the World over the last 70 years – with special focus on the industry’s performance over the last decade.

In detail:

  • At the global level, exploration expenditures bottomed-out at US$11.2 billion in 2016 (in constant 2019 Dollars). Over the following two years they rose by $1.0 billion.  However, due to uncertainty in the commodity markets World exploration expenditures fell in 2019 to $11.3 billion.  Until the current trade war between the US and China is resolved, the outlook for exploration will remain subdued / uncertain.
  • Over the last decade MinEx estimates that ~ 1070 discoveries (>=”Moderate” in size) were made in the World  … that equivalent to 2 new deposits each week.   
  • Out of the 1070 discoveries only 19 of these were Tier 1 (or World Class).  Four each were found in China and Australia, three in Africa and two each in Canada, USA and Pacific / SE Asia. 
  • Gold still remains the main focus for exploration – accounting for 37% of total expenditures and nearly half of all discoveries made.
  • Up until the 1980s the Majors used to make most of the discoveries.  Over the last decade Junior explorers accounted for 63% of all discoveries (by number).
  • 66% of the value is tied-up in the Tier 1 and 2 discoveries – but these account for less than 8% by number
  • In terms of the value proposition for exploration the recent story has been disappointing.  Over the last decade the sector has switched from creating (net) value to destroying value.  The bang-per- buck is currently only 55 cents in the Dollar … hopefully this will improve over time as recent discoveries grow in size and value.

In summary, the outlook is subdued / uncertain… to meet our future needs we need to improve our discovery performance.

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