by Greg Klein | November 6, 2015
Newly released numbers offer a glimpse of how exploration money’s being spent in this country by location and commodity. The info comes from a Natural Resources Canada survey asking companies about this year’s spending intentions for exploration and deposit appraisal. The feds then compared their responses with figures going back to 2010. Not surprisingly, we’re at a six-year low.
Total spending intentions for 2015 sunk to $1,879.8 million, almost 6.7% lower than last year and (read and weep) a nearly 56% plunge from the heady days of 2011. This year’s total breaks down to $1,037.3 million for exploration and $842.5 million for deposit appraisal.
Ontario gets the most, $399.8 million or 21.3% of Canada’s total. Nearly 73% of the province’s outlay will go to the pursuit of precious metals.
British Columbia comes second, with $355.8 million, or 18.9% of the total. Precious metals will get nearly 41% while base metals get about 29%.
About $297.1 million, or 15.8% of the national total, goes to third-place Saskatchewan. Uranium gets nearly 52% of that.
Quebec’s share comes to $280.9 million, or 14.9%, with nearly 40% of that being spent on precious metals.
Nunavut places fifth nationally with $202.5 million or 10.8% of Canada’s total. Precious metals projects attract almost 80% of the territory’s spending this year.
Several jurisdictions improved over last year’s performance. This year’s plans show increases of 21% for Saskatchewan (from $245 million to $297.1 million), 27% for Alberta (from $26.1 million to $33.2 million), 28% for Nunavut (from $158 million to $202.5 million), 30% for Manitoba (from $28 million to $36.4 million) and 44% for Nova Scotia (from $7 million to $10.4 million).
Nor do all minerals have spending on six-year lows. Although coal sits at a five-year low of $113.1 million, that’s nearly double the amount spent in 2010. Uranium exploration and appraisal gets $172.1 million in 2015, a bit better than its 2013 low of $167.4 million. Diamond spending should reach a six-year high of $119.6 million. The Northwest Territories gets $76.7 million of that, which accounts for just over 81% of the NWT total.
Of the national total, majors plan to put up $1,130.9 million this year and juniors the other $748.9 million. Ontario has the greatest major/junior disparity, in which the big guys plan $308.8 million, compared to $91.1 million from their smaller cap cousins. The gap’s narrowest in Quebec, where majors plan $145.3 million, followed closely by the juniors’ $135.6 million.
Natural Resources Canada defines exploration and deposit appraisal as “on-mine-site and off-mine-site activities, field work, overhead costs, engineering, economic and pre- or production feasibility studies, environment and land access costs.”