BRITISH COLUMBIA – Mining exploration in 2022 hit a 10-year high in expenditures, the British Columbia Mineral and Coal Exploration Survey released March 7 states.
The seventh annual survey found that exploration spending across the province hit $740 million, surpassing the previous 10-year high of $681 million in 2012 by almost 10 per cent. The number of projects and total metres drilled decreased by 24 per cent and 20 per cent respectively from the previous year as exploration shifted toward earlier stage activities.
The survey, conducted by EY, the provincial Ministry of Energy, Mines & Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI) and the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME), provides a view of the current state of the mineral and coal exploration sector in BC.
Data and analysis presented in the report are for the period January 1 through December 31, 2022 and are based on survey responses and information collected from financial reports and press releases from 170 companies operating in BC, which collectively represent 230 projects across the province.
The report indicated that gold is considered the primary commodity for 46 per cent of respondents, and copper exploration spending rose 84 per cent from the previous year.
“Last year was marked with volatility of metals prices, through a combination of macroeconomic and geopolitical factors that had a range of both positive and negative impacts,” says Iain Thompson, EY Canada Mining & Metals Consulting Leader. “The reduced risk of pandemic-related shutdowns and full reopening of economies, countered by the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war and the energy crisis in its wake, created an environment of uncertainty in the commodity market. With this backdrop considered, the year also marked a record-year for exploration spending in British Columbia.”
Exploration for copper was the driving force, fueled by favourable market conditions and demand, rising from $128 million in 2021 to $235 million. Critical metals exploration in BC jumped 77 per cent year-over-year, while the precious metals spend saw a 91 per cent increase from 2020. Gold spending retained the record-high levels seen in 2021, decreasing by a marginal 2 per cent year over year from $431 million in 2021 to $422 million in 2022.
Grassroots and early-stage exploration accounted for 39 per cent of total exploration spending in 2022, receiving 78 per cent more funding year over year, while later stage-projects — those in the advanced, mine-evaluation and mine-lease stages — received 10 per cent less funding.
“It’s exciting to see exploration spending strengthening in BC, particularly as the need for minerals and metals increases as we undergo a global transition towards electrification and a low carbon future.,” shares Kendra Johnston, President and CEO of AME. “We’re also encouraged to see survey respondents increase their commitment to working with First Nations throughout the exploration and development lifecycle to ensure benefits extend to the local and surrounding communities.”
Business Examiner Staff