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Canadian exploration spending projected to rise 6%; Manitoba contradicts its Fraser Institute ranking

by Greg Klein | March 14, 2018

It’s hardly a boom time scenario but mineral exploration within Canada should see a healthy 6% spending increase this year, according to recent federal government figures. Info supplied by companies shows an estimated total of $2.238 billion planned for exploration and deposit appraisal this year, compared with $2.111 billion in 2017. The second annual increase in a row, it’s far less dramatic than last year’s 29.6% leap.

Canadian exploration spending projected to rise 6% Manitoba contradicts its Fraser Institute ranking

The Natural Resources Canada survey compares preliminary numbers for metals and non-metals from last year with projected budgets for 2018.

Together Quebec and Ontario account for more than half the spending, with la belle province getting 27.3% of last year’s total and 29.3% of this year’s, while Ontario got 24.9% and 26.5%.

Some runners-up were British Columbia (12.2% of Canada’s total in 2017 and 13% in 2018), Saskatchewan (9% and 7.4%) and Yukon (7.8% and 7.7%).

Proportionately Manitoba enjoyed the greatest increase, a 42% jump from $38.5 million to $54.7 million, in a performance at odds with the province’s most recent Fraser Institute ranking. Less spectacularly but still impressive, the figures show Quebec climbing 13.9% from $576.5 million to $656.7 million. British Columbia gets a 12.9% increase from $257.7 million to $290.9 million, and Ontario 12.7% from $526.2 million to $593 million.

Some disappointments include Saskatchewan, falling 13% from $189.9 million to $165.1 million. Nunavut plunged 34.6% from $169.3 million to $110.7 million.

Nunavut has to address its land access issues. In the NWT, work on the proposed Mineral Resources Act and other legislation must be to improve the investment climate. Settling long-outstanding land claims and reducing the over 30% of lands off limits to development would also help, as would proactive marketing by indigenous governments.—Gary Vivian, president, NWT and
Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Addressing the territory’s performance along with its neighbour’s 10% drop, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines president Gary Vivian said, “Nunavut has to address its land access issues. In the NWT, work on the proposed Mineral Resources Act and other legislation must be to improve the investment climate. Settling long-outstanding land claims and reducing the over 30% of lands off limits to development would also help, as would proactive marketing by indigenous governments.”

Combining figures for mine complex development with exploration and deposit appraisal, this year’s projected country-wide total rises 8.9% to $14.9 billion, the highest number in the four years of data released in this survey.

Commodities getting the most money are precious metals, although at a nearly 1.5% decrease to $1.35 billion this year from $1.37 billion last year. A more drastic drop was uranium, down 23.4% to $103.7 million. Base metals saw a 38.4% surge to $406.9 million. Coal’s projected for a 31.1% boost to $70.8 million.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenses considered for the survey include field work, engineering, economics, feasibility studies, the environment, land access and associated general expenses. Natural Resources Canada did not consider work for extensions of known reserves.

Recent studies from PricewaterhouseCoopers showed a marked improvement in junior mining company finances and a relatively stable, if cautious, ambience for more senior Canadian companies.

Covering a different period with different methodology than Natural Resources Canada, a study by EY, the B.C. government and the Association for Mineral Exploration calculated a 20% increase in B.C. exploration spending from 2016 to 2017.

See the Natural Resources Canada survey here.

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