HALIFAX – Global exploration on non-ferrous projects has topped US$7 billion, according to information collected by the METALS ECONOMICS GROUP The study shows that budgets in 2006 have increased for a fourth consecutive year to more than $7.1 billion, the highest level since the study series began in 1989. The 2006 budgets also show the highest year-over-year dollar increase since 1989a 45% increase from 2005 exploration budgets.
Latin America continues to be the most popular region for exploration spending, followed by Canada. Nationally, Canada retains the top spot for the fifth year running, with total budgets nearly twice second-place Australia.
Exploration budgets have increased for all commodities covered in the study. Gold exploration budgets continue to exceed all other targets in dollars, but base metals budgets show a substantially greater percentage increase than gold in 2006. Silver exploration has also increased significantly.
The total budgets for late-stage exploration (including feasibility work) have exceeded grassroots exploration budgets for the second consecutive year. Prior to 2004, grassroots budgets were on average about 50% higher than late-stage budgets. However, in the current exploration cycle, with metals prices at record highs, late-stage exploration has become increasingly important, as companies push to bring projects to a production decision.
Metals Economics analyzed more than 1,600 companies’ exploration budgets for the 17th edition of the “Corporate Exploration Strategies” study. It is available in print from Metals Economics Group, P.O. Box 2206, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 3C4 (phone 902-429-2880, fax: 902-429-6593 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) or on the Internet at www.MetalsEconomics.com.