PDAC kicks off in Toronto

William Gleason

March 3, 2019

As more than 25,000 people were expected to converge on Toronto, Canada for the 2019 Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference on March 3 there was plenty of news from the mining industry to keep attendees talking.

Barrick’s hostile takeover attempt of Newmont was one of the main topics of discussion as Barrick continued to make its case that a merger of the gold mining giants would net $7 billion in pre tax savings over 20 years, based on net present value - $4.7 billion of which will come from the companies Nevada operations.

Newmont entered the week fending off the hostile takeover, arguing that it would make more sense to create a joint venture.

While many waited to see the next developments in the gold sector, there was mixed news concerning the exploration sector. A new study released by PDAC and Oreninc, found that exploration spending jumped more than 30 percent in Canada and almost 20 percent globally in 2018.

However, State of Mineral Finance 2019: At the Crossroads shows that financing had weakened overall, stalling the investment rebound that had previously emerged.

Alarmingly, global funding for exploration financing dropped 50 percent year-over-year, the report shows.

“The mineral exploration and mining industry is still feeling the effects of declining investment across the world, and despite earlier signals that the worst of the downturn was behind us, investor confidence and spending hasn’t fully returned,” said Glenn Mullan, PDAC President.

The report shows that Canada was not immune but better shielded from declining investment in 2018 as exploration-specific financing fell by roughly half the global decline at around 25 percent year-over-year.

Weak metal prices are the likely driver behind declining 2018 investment, and uncertainties in global trade and growth charts an ambiguous path forward for financing over the coming year.

The full State of Mineral Finance 2019: At the Crossroads report is available on the PDAC website.

Canada’s mineral exploration and mining industry contributes around $97 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) annually, employs more than 630,000 workers (directly and indirectly), represents around 19 percent ($98 billion) of domestic exports, and is the largest private-sector industrial employer on a proportional basis of Indigenous peoples in the country.

The report found that gold remained the primary target for exploration in 2018 with an increase of 18 percent or $756.6 million year over year to $4.85 billion. Aggregate base metals budget also made a significant move up, increasing $606 million to $3.04 billion.

Battery metals also performed well with lithium leading the way and reaching a new high of $247.1 million, a 58 percent increase. And for the second year, cobalt registered the largest year-over-year percentage increase in planned exploration spending among the nonferrous metals. 95 companies allocated a total of $110.8 million for cobalt exploration in 2018. That is more than triple the $35.9 million budgeted by 52 companies in 2017, the report found.

 

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