Latin America remains king
Latin America's geological wealth and relative political stability continue to attract the bulk of exploration efforts, with the region's aggregate budget increasing 20% year over year to almost US$2.4 billion in 2017. Our Rest of World region, covering Europe and most of mainland Asia, has held onto second place by attracting 9% more allocations than in 2016, followed by Canada, Africa, Australia, the United States and Pacific/Southeast Asia. (Note: Given their size and importance to the industry, Canada, Australia and the United States are treated as regions for continental-scale comparisons.)
Perennial mining centers Canada, Australia and the United States have remained the top countries in 2017, with Canada recording a 12% year-over-year increase in budgets, and the other two countries each with 19% increases. Latin American countries occupy five of the top 10 most popular destinations, led by Chile, Peru and Mexico, and with Argentina slipping into 10th place ahead of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Riskier exploration still unattractive
As the Corporate Exploration Strategies (CES) series has documented over the past few years, exploration efforts have been increasingly focused at or near operating mines. The 2017 data shows that the minesite share (37%) of the global budget has risen above both the late-stage share (36%) and the grassroots share (27%) for the first time since the CES began in 1989. The long-term swing away from grassroots exploration has been exacerbated since 2013 by the collapse in market investment in junior explorers and sharp spending cuts by the major mining companies. Although improved market sentiment over the past 18 months seems to have slowed the decline in grassroots' share of budgets in 2017, another year of increase in the minesite share reflects a near-term focus by many producers, as well as a persisting climate of risk aversion.
Following the release of the 2017 exploration budget data for 1,535 mining companies, upcoming Corporate Exploration Strategies research reports will analyze global, commodity, geographic and exploration sector trends emerging from the data.
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