Global exploration up 19%; cobalt/lithium budgets soar

15th November 2018

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia


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PERTH ( – The budget for global non-ferrous exploration has increased by 19% year-on-year, to $10.1-billion, new data from S&P Global Market Intelligence has revealed.

This was the second consecutive year where there has been an upturn in exploration spend, with S&P reporting on Thursday that junior exploration companies had seen a 35% increase in their exploration budgets.

Cobalt and lithium budgets have risen by 500% since 2005, including an 82% increase in this year alone.

The budget for gold explorers has increased to $4.86-billion in 2018, up from $40.5-billion in 2017, while base metals exploration has increased by more than $600-million, to $3.04-billion.

“Improved metals prices and margins since 2016 have encouraged producers to expand their organic efforts the past two years,” said S&P associate director of metals and mining research, Mark Ferguson.

“Over the same period, equity market support for the junior explorers has improved, leading to an uptick in the number and size of completed financings. This allowed the group to increase exploration budgets by 35% in 2018.”

Ferguson said that despite these improvements, the level of equity market support and industry-wide exploration efforts remained significantly below the peak levels recorded in 2010 to 2012.

“The improved investment environment has, for the first time since 2012, finally resulted in more dormant companies resuming exploration efforts and new entrants into the industry,” Ferguson said.

The 1 651 companies actively exploring in 2018 is 8% more than the 1 535 companies with budgets in 2017. However, the 2018 total is still about 900 companies less than in 2012, representing one-third culling of active explorers over the past five years.

In terms of geography, Canada remained the top destination for non-ferrous exploration in 2018, with a $1.44-billion budget, a 31% increase on the previous year.

Australia ranked second in 2018, with a budget of $1.33-billion, while the US was placed third.

Edited by Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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