VANCOUVER — Exploration spending in British Columbia may have been down by 58% in 2009 compared to 2008, but the tempo was upbeat at this week's Roundup 2010 organized by the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AMEBC). Spending on the hunt for mineral deposits was only $154 million in 2009, compared to $367 million in 2008.
Provincial minister of state for mining Randy Hawes was optimistic, telling delegates that he anticipates increased investment in 2010 because of strengthening mineral commodity prices.
"The economic turnaround and recovery in world economies has led to a higher demand for minerals and strong copper and gold prices trending up throughout 2009," he said. "Exploration activity rallied very late in the year as a results of high copper and gold prices, and there is lots of reason to be optimistic for 2010.
"Mining is going to lead the economic recovery in our province," Hawes predicted.
Not everyone could share such optimism.
AMEBC chairman Rob Stevens noted that British Columbia's share of exploration spending is shrinking. Canadian spending in the province fell to little more than 10% in 2009, down from a high of 19% in 2006. Global exploration spending dropped to 1.6% last year, compared to 3.5% in 2006.
The most pressing issue for B.C.'s exploration community is land-use restrictions. "What we've ended up with here is that effectively 40% of the province has become off-limits for exploration," he said. "We believe that number is really far too high."
Delegates to the Roundup 2010 were offered technical sessions, a dozen short courses, two field trips, a core shack, map tent, prospectors' tent and poster session.
For further information about the AMEBC, please visit www.AMEBC.ca.