Amid falling exploration budgets across nearly all commodities, gold exploration remained steady in 2020, posting a 1% increase over 2019.
Exploration was buoyed by stronger gold prices during the Covid-19 pandemic, reports research and data company Standard & Poor’s Global Market Intelligence (S&P GMI).
As such, S&P GMI’s research shows that gold’s share of the global exploration budget increased by 6%, or $51-million, year-on-year and represented more than half of the global budget.
In terms of regional growth, S&P GMI reports that Canadian and US gold exploration totalled $148-million, representing growth of 13% year-on-year.
Reaffirming its commitment to Canada and Goldcorp’s assets, gold miner Newmont’s allocated budget to Canada was up by $8-million year-on-year, compared with a $37-million decrease in the company’s total budget.
In the US – which S&P GMI notes had the largest budget increases year-on-year among all countries – gold major Barrick Gold had both the largest gold budget and the largest exploration increase at $22-million.
By comparison, Latin American budgets, which were the worst affected, fell by 14%, or $135-million. Despite the decline, Latin America remained the top region for gold exploration, with allocations totalling $858-million.
Meanwhile, S&P GMI reveals that the major gold producers continued to account for the lion’s share of global gold exploration and that budgets by the juniors had recovered after having decreased in 2019.
While intermediates were the third-largest exploration segment, S&P GMI notes that they were the biggest drivers of growth in gold exploration in 2020. Their aggregate budget of $740-million was a seven-year high and the $71-million increase year-on-year more than offset the combined decreases by majors, governments and other companies.
However, grassroots and late-stage budgets fell for a second consecutive year, by $41-million and $38-million, respectively.
For the sixth consecutive year, mine site exploration accounted for the largest share of the global gold budget at 46%, an all-time high, based on an increase of $130-million year-on-year. The Latin American region continued to account for the largest share of the global grassroots budget with 22%, or $228-million.
While the Covid-19 pandemic created challenges in conducting work programmes, those same factors have underpinned a strong gold price year-to-date, with gold averaging 27% higher in September 2020, than in September 2019.
Fundraising by junior and intermediate companies for gold projects hit a record high for the nine-month period ending September 2020 at $4.05-billion.