Canadian Global Exploration Activity

Arlene Drake

The author is a senior exploration analyst with the Lands and Minerals Sector,
Natural Resources Canada.
Telephone: 343-292-8604
E-mail: Arlene Drake

Introduction

This article provides an overview of Canadian mineral exploration activityFootnote 1 abroad. It also highlights the domestic and foreign components of the larger-company exploration market in Canada.

Global Market for Mineral Exploration

The value of exploration programs expected to be undertaken worldwide in 2010 for precious metals, base metals, and diamonds (Table 1) reached US$10.7 billion, up by US$3.4 billion, or almost 46%, from the US$7.3 billion that companies had planned to spend in 2009.Footnote 2 The value of these programs includes the budgets of both larger companies and smaller companies. It also includes estimates for firms that do not disclose their exploration plans and for firms that were likely to spend less than US$100 000 in 2010. Canada’s share of global exploration climbed to 19% in 2010, up from 16% in 2009 (Figure 1). The Metals Economics Group (MEG) includes uranium in its survey of companies’ planned exploration budgets. However, uranium will not be included in this analysis in order to keep the numbers comparable to previous years for which the data did not include uranium.

The world’s larger companies are defined here as those companies that planned to spend at least US$3 million on mineral exploration in 2010; the world’s smaller companies are defined as those companies that planned to spend at least US$100 000, but less than US$3 million. This definition of larger and smaller companies should not be confused with the MEG definition of a junior and senior company where the division is based on revenue for the senior company and equity financing for the junior company. In fact, in recent years the larger-company category has included an increasing number of “junior” companies as the equity markets were providing juniors with significant financing.

The number of companies that reported budgets for mineral exploration of at least US$100 000 in 2010 increased to 2085, up by 241 firms, or over 13%, from 1844 firms in 2009. As a group, these 2085 companies planned to spend US$10.7 billion in 130 countries. Of these companies, 1103, or almost 53%, were based in Canada.Footnote 3 Exploration budgets that had increased for six years in a row to 2008, and that were slashed in 2009, rebounded to three quarters of the 2008 peak budgets (US$12.63 billion) in 2010.

Compared with the previous year, the budgets of companies that planned to spend at least US$100 000 on mineral exploration in 2010 increased for about 66% of the countries in which they expected to operate. Aggregate year-over-year company budgets grew by US$858 million for Canada, by US$362 million for Australia, by US$355 million for the United States, by US$242 million for Mexico, and by US$187 million for Chile. Although these countries regained lost budgets, only Chile regained more than it lost (just over 100%), the United States recovered 91%, Canada and Mexico recovered 85% and 79%, respectively, and Australia recovered 75%. With continued strong metal prices, these countries may very well regain all of their budgets by 2011 to reach or exceed the previous budget highs of 2008.

As for the 29 countries where exploration budgets were expected to decrease from 2009 to 2010, the largest decrease was by US$37 million for Angola, the second largest decrease was by US$31 million for Pakistan, and the third largest decrease was by US$27 million for South Africa. Budgets decreased by US$24 million in Russia and by US$16 million in Bolivia.

MEG Footnote 1 reports that companies have become more risk averse due to political and economic uncertainty, and countries like South Africa, Bolivia, and Venezuela were most affected. MEG also indicates that exploration budgets increased for all regions and, for Canada, both the number of companies exploring and the amounts spent increased in 2010.

World's Larger Companies

Global trends in mineral exploration are generally based on data for the world’s larger companies (companies planning on spending more than US$3 million). The focus of this report is on this group of companies.

During 2010, the world’s larger companies were expected to undertake exploration programs with a combined value of US$9.24 billion in 110 countries (3 countries more than in 2009). As a result of the global economic recovery, the aggregate budgets of the world’s larger companies increased by 51%, up from US$6.12 billion the previous year. (The year 2008 remains the peak of spending at US$11.29 million.)

In 2010, the number of companies based around the world that intended to spend at least US$3 million on mineral exploration increased to 618, a significant increase after 2009’s steep decline when 404 companies had planned to spend an equivalent amount.

In 2010, the world’s 618 larger companies represented 30% of the 2085 companies that reported exploration budgets of at least US$100 000. They accounted for about 87% of the value of planned programs (Table 1). On a commodity basis, the larger companies accounted for 86% of the value of worldwide programs aimed at diamonds, for 90% of those aimed at base metals, for 85% of those aimed at platinum group metals (PGM), and for 86% of those aimed at gold.

On a regional basis, the world’s larger companies accounted for 93% of the value of the exploration programs planned for Europe and the former Soviet Union (FSU), for 95% of those planned for Africa and the Middle East, for 97% of those planned for Latin America and the Caribbean, for 91% of those planned for the United States, for 92% of those planned for other Asia-Pacific countries, for 80% of those planned for Australia, and for 82% of those planned for Canada.

World's Smaller Companies

During 2010, the world’s smaller companies (companies planning to spend between US$100 000 and US$3 million) were expected to undertake exploration programs around the world with a combined value of US$1.44 billion. About 29% of the budgets of these companies were expected to be spent in Canada, a small increase from 27% in 2009. In 2010, 1467 companies were classified as smaller companies, up from 1440 in 2009. Over 55% of these smaller companies were based in Canada.

The smaller companies are significant contributors to mineral exploration and development in many regions of the world. In many countries, the smaller companies are the only ones that undertake commercial mineral exploration. In 2010, there were 21 countries where the only firms planning to be active in mineral exploration were smaller companies. This is similar to the previous year when 22 countries were visited by only small companies.

The smaller companies are a significant component of the exploration activity occurring in Australia and Canada. In 2010, the smaller Canadian-based companies accounted for 18% of the budgets of the smaller and larger Canadian-based companies combined; in Australia, the comparable figure was 20%.

The smaller Canadian companies planned to spend US$406 million in Canada, or 51% of their worldwide budgets of US$799 million; in Australia, the comparable figures were US$259 million, or almost 70% of their worldwide budgets of US$370 million.

Although the world’s smaller companies accounted for 13% (Table 1) of the value of all exploration programs expected to be undertaken worldwide during 2010, their activities will not be analyzed further in this report.

Larger Canadian-Based Companies

There are more mining companies based in Canada than anywhere else. In 2010, 298 of the world’s 618 larger companies (companies planning to spend more than US$3 million) were based in this country (Figure 2). In 2009, 165 of the 404 larger companies were based in Canada.

In 2010, the value of the exploration programs that the larger Canadian-based companies planned to undertake in Canada and elsewhere around the world increased significantly to US$3.6 billion (Figure 3), up by almost US$1.8 billion, or 97%, from the US$1.8 billion they budgeted in 2009.

The larger Canadian-based companies allocated 64% of their budgets to explore for gold, 24% to explore for base metals, 2% to explore for diamonds, and 1% to explore for PGM. The proportion of their budgets allocated to gold was less than in 2009 while the proportions allocated to diamonds remained the same. The proportion allocated to PGM and base metals increased. In comparison, the average world proportions allocated to gold, base metals, diamonds, and PGM in 2010 stood at 51%, 34%, 3%, and 2%, respectively.

The value of the programs that the larger Canadian-based companies planned to undertake during 2010 was 39% of the value of all larger-company exploration programs for the entire world, an increase from 30% in 2009. However, adding the value of the programs of the smaller Canadian-based companies to those of the larger ones raises the proportion of the value of exploration programs planned by Canadian-based companies here and abroad to 41% of all the activity expected worldwide. The budgets of the larger Canadian-based companies increased by 121% for exploration in Canada from 2009 to 2010. In 2010, there were twice as many Canadian-based companies exploring in Canada.

Canadian companies account for the dominant share, by far, of the value of all mineral exploration programs planned worldwide by the larger companies. In contrast, in 2010, the larger companies based in Africa accounted for 6%, those based in Europe and the FSU accounted for 13%, those based in Australia accounted for 16%, those based in the United States accounted for over 7%, and Latin America-based companies accounted for 11%.

The larger Canadian-based companies typically budget less individually for exploration programs than the industry average worldwide. In 2010, the aggregate exploration budgets of the larger Canadian-based companies had a mean of US$12 million and a median of US$6.5 million. This compared with global averages of US$15 million and almost US$7.0 million, respectively. The largest Canadian mineral exploration budget in 2010 was that of Barrick Gold Corp. (US$175 million) where 41% of its corporate exploration budget was targeted for the United States, 33% for the Asia-Pacific region, 11% for Africa, 10% for Latin America, and 3% for Canada. The world’s largest budget was that of Vale S.A. (US$362.5 million) where 51% of its exploration budget was targeted for the Latin America region (mostly Brazil), 28% for Canada (mostly for potash exploration in Saskatchewan), 13% for the Asia-Pacific region, and 8% for Africa. The second largest mineral exploration budget by a Canadian-based company in 2010 was that of Goldcorp Inc. (US$145 million) where 55% of its exploration budget was destined for Canada, 24% for Mexico, 16% for Latin America, and 5% for the United States.

Recognizing that companies of different sizes and based in different regions of the world can have significant variations between exploration budgets and exploration expenditures, the use of aggregate budgets will generally provide a more reliable estimate of the total amount that is likely to be spent in the field.

For 2009, 1900 companies based around the world provided data for both their exploration expenditures and exploration budgets. Of these 1900 companies, 430 were classified as larger companies and 1470 were classified as smaller companies. In total, these 1900 companies had planned to spend US$7.667 billion on exploration during 2009. However, by the end of the year, they had actually spent US$7.989 billion, an increase of $322 million, or 4%. The 430 larger companies spent US$25 million more than they had initially planned, or an increase of less than 1%. The 1470 smaller companies spent US$296 million more than they had initially planned, an increase of 25%. In comparison, 176 larger Canadian-based companies overspent their aggregate budgets of US$1.976 billion by US$85 million, or roughly 4%, while 844 smaller Canadian-based companies overspent their aggregate budgets of US$618 million by US$144 million, or 23%. Improving prices and investor appetite for resource projects allowed companies to raise significant money for exploration. In 2009, the departure of expenditures from the budgets of individual large Canadian companies ranged between US$16 million under budget and US$40 million over budget for the larger companies and between US$2.3 million under budget and almost US$16 million over budget for the smaller ones. In comparison, in 2008, the larger Canadian-based companies underspent their exploration budgets by 6%.Footnote 4

In late 2010, companies of all sizes listed on Canadian stock exchanges held interests in a portfolio of more than 10 244 mineral properties located in Canada or in just over 100 other countries around the world.Footnote 5 Most of this portfolio consists of properties at the early stages of exploration. The number of properties in which these companies held interests worldwide in 2010 increased by more than 2460, or about 32%, compared with the number they held at the end of 2009. The portfolio of mineral property interests increased by 36% for properties abroad and by over 28% for domestic properties. Canadian companies have expanded their exploration reach to record levels by increasing the number of properties they were actively exploring.

Larger-Company Exploration Market in Canada

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in Canada was valued at US$1613.3 million (Figure 4), up by US$765 million, or 90%, from roughly US$849 million in 2009. The proportion of the world’s total exploration activity planned for Canada in 2010 was 19%, a significant increase from the 16% level reached in 2009. This level of spending is more in line with recent historical levels (if spending included uranium, the Canadian share would remain at 19%).

In 2010, 177 of the world’s larger domestic-based or foreign-based companies planned to explore for minerals in Canada, up by 67% from 106 such companies in 2009. During 2010, 17% of the exploration efforts of the world’s larger companies were expected to take place in Canada, compared with 14% in 2009 (Figure 5). When the exploration programs of the smaller companies are included, Canada remained, for the ninth year in a row, the individual country (as opposed to entire regions) where the global mineral exploration industry expected to be the most active in 2010.

Larger Canadian-Based Companies in Canada

In 2010, 140 of the larger Canadian-based companies allocated, in total, US$1221 million for mineral exploration in Canada (Figure 4). Their budgets were up by about US$668 million, or 121%, from the US$554 million that 76 larger Canadian-based companies allocated in 2009. In 2010, Canadian companies planned to spend more on mineral exploration in Canada than they planned to spend in any one foreign region. The share of the larger-company mineral exploration market in Canada controlled by large Canadian-based companies was 76% in 2010, an increase from 65% in 2009 and equal to the levels reached in 2006/07.

In 2010, the larger Canadian-based companies allocated 34% of their global exploration budgets to programs in Canada, about 4% less than in 2009. In comparison, the larger Australian-based companies allocated almost 47% of their global budgets to domestic exploration in 2010 while U.S. companies allocated 31%.

Although larger Canadian companies operate all over the world, Canada remains the country where they conduct the largest proportion, by far, of their global mineral exploration programs (Figure 6).

Foreign-Based Companies in Canada

During 2010, 37 of the larger foreign-based companies planned to spend, in total, US$392 million on mineral exploration in Canada (Figure 4), compared with US$295 million in 2009. In 2010, foreign-based companies were expected to undertake over 24% of all larger-company exploration programs planned for this country. Almost 37% of the foreign exploration budgets for Canada were aimed at base metals, 16% at gold, 8% at diamonds, and 4% at PGM. The “other” category remained at 35% of spending targeted for Canada. The companies spending in this category included BHP Billiton plc; Vale S.A.; Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.; Zhongchuan International Mining Holding Ltd.; Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC); the Mosaic Company; and Mitsubishi Corporation. The majority of spending in the “other” category was directed at potash exploration.

The larger foreign-based companies active in mineral exploration in Canada in 2010 included BHP Billiton plc. based in the United Kingdom and Australia; Newmont Mining Corp. based in the United States; Chihong Zinc and Germanium Co. Ltd. and Jilin Ji’en Nickel Industry Co. Ltd., both based in China; Xstrata plc based in Switzerland; the Rio Tinto Group based in the United Kingdom; Magma Metals Limited based in Australia; the Mineral and Metals Group based in Australia, but a wholly owned subsidiary of China MinMetals; the De Beers Group based in Luxembourg; Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. based in the United States; and Anglo Gold Ashanti Limited based in the United Kingdom.

In 2010, Vale S.A. planned to spend roughly US$99.8 million on mineral exploration in Canada. Its budget was the largest reported for this country for the year. Of that budget, 48% (US$48 million) was directed at potash exploration and 52% (US$51 million) was directed at base-metal exploration.

Larger Canadian-Based Companies Abroad

In 2010, the larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend almost US$2.4 billion on mineral exploration outside of Canada (Figure 4). Their foreign budgets were up by US$1.1 billion, or over 87%, from the US$1.3 billion that they planned to spend in 2009.

Two thirds of the worldwide budgets of the larger Canadian-based companies were allocated to programs abroad in 2010, about the same proportion as in each of the previous eight years.

Over 67% of the 299 larger Canadian-based companies planned to work abroad during 2010. Of these 299 companies, 159 (53%) planned to work only abroad while 41 (14%) planned to work in both Canada and abroad. Only 99 (33%) of the 299 larger Canadian-based companies planned to work only in Canada.

Although mining is a global enterprise, undertaking exploration programs in several countries simultaneously is relatively uncommon. In 2010, only 13 (4%) of the 299 larger Canadian-based companies budgeted for programs in five or more countries, 72 (24%) budgeted for programs in two or more countries but in less than five, and 214 (72%) budgeted for programs in only one country.

At the end of 2010, companies of all sizes listed on Canadian stock exchanges held interests in a portfolio of 4976 mineral properties located abroad, up by 3662 properties when compared to the number held at the end of 2009.Footnote 5

United States

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in the United States was valued at almost US$698 million (Figure 4), or roughly 8% of the US$9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. Larger-company budgets for the United States were up by US$321 million, or 85%, compared with those of the previous year. Fifty-three of the larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend, in total, US$423 million in the United States, compared to US$221 million in 2009.

The share of the larger-company mineral exploration market held by Canadian-based companies in the United States in 2010 stood at almost 61%, up slightly from 59% the previous year. The United States remained in second place after Canada in terms of countries where Canadian companies were the most active in mineral exploration (Figure 6) in 2010.

During 2010, Canadian companies planned to spend almost twice as much as U.S. firms on mineral exploration in the United States. U.S. companies accounted for almost 30% of the value of exploration programs in their country in 2010.

Canadian and U.S. companies doubled their spending directed at the United States, adding US$312 million to budgets in 2010. The United States is likely to remain, for the foreseeable future, one of the top foreign countries where the larger Canadian-based companies hold the largest portfolio of mineral properties.

Latin America and the Caribbean

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in Latin America and the Caribbean was valued at US$2.6 billion (Figure 4), or 28% of the US$9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. The larger-company mineral exploration market in the region grew by US$892 million, or 52%. The larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend US$1060 million there, up by more than US$504 million, or over 91%, from US$556 million in 2009.

Latin America and the Caribbean is the foreign region where Canadian companies are currently the most active in mineral exploration (Figure 4). Almost 60% of large Canadian-based company budgets for Latin America and the Caribbean were targeted at Mexico, Chile, and Peru.

In 2010, Canadian companies held 41% of the larger-company mineral exploration market in Latin America and the Caribbean, up from 32% the previous year. The Canadian share is the largest, by far, of all international competitors in the region and is roughly US$284 million more than the amount domestic companies planned to spend there. The share of the exploration market held by local companies in the region was almost 30% in 2010.

Mexico

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in Mexico was valued at almost US$548 million, or roughly 6% of the US$9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. Larger-company budgets for Mexico increased by US$243 million, or 80%, compared with those of the previous year.

In 2010, Mexico ranked first in Latin America, and third in the world, in terms of all countries where Canadian companies were the most active in mineral exploration (Figure 6). Forty-six of the larger Canadian-based companies planned exploration programs for Mexico during 2010. These companies planned to spend, in total, over US$308 million, which represents 56% of the larger-company market in that country.

South America

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in South America was valued at almost US$1.96 billion, or more than 21% of the US$9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. From 2009 to 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in the region increased by US$598 million, or 44%. Ninety-two of the larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend, in total, US$680 million in South America, almost US$310 million more than during the previous year. Their programs accounted for 35% of all larger-company mineral exploration activity planned there, a larger share than the South America-based companies (32%). Countries where Canadian companies are the most active in mineral exploration include Chile, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia (Figure 6).Footnote 6

Central America

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in Central America was valued at almost US$48 million, or less than 1% of the $9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. From 2009 to 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market increased by almost US$26 million, or about 115%, due to increased spending in Nicaragua, Panama, and Guatemala. The larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend almost US$48 million in the region.

Central America is one of the regions of the world where the smaller companies, and those based in Canada in particular, account for a substantial proportion of the mineral exploration activity that is usually undertaken in the region. In 2010, the smaller Canadian-based companies were expected to account for 88% of the $9.7 million smaller-company exploration market in that region.

Europe and the Former Soviet Union

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in Europe and the FSU was valued at US$821 million (Figure 4), or almost 9% of the $9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. From 2009 to 2010, the market in the region increased by US$171 million, or by 26%. The thirty-three larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend US$208 million in the region, about US$76 million more than they had planned to spend there in 2009.

Western Europe

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in western Europe was valued at US$183 million, or roughly 2% of the $9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. From 2009 to 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in the region grew by US$65 million, or 55%. The larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend about US$72 million in the region, 50% more than the amount that they had planned to spend during 2009.

Eastern Europe

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in eastern Europe was valued at US$134 million, or roughly 1% of the $9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. From 2009 to 2010, the market in the region increased by US$79 million (142%). The majority of the increases (80%) occurred in Poland and Turkey. The larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend about US$56 million there, which is about 66% more than the amount that they had planned to spend in 2009.

Former Soviet Union

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in the FSU was valued at US$504 million,Footnote 7 or roughly 5% of the $9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. The market in the FSU increased by US$27 million. The larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend US$80 million in the FSU, up from US$52 million in 2009.

Africa and the Middle East

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in Africa and the Middle East was valued at US$1.3 billion (Figure 4), or more than 14% of the $9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. From 2009 to 2010, exploration budgets for the region increased by US$329 million, or 33%. Africa accounts for almost all of the mineral exploration market in Africa and the Middle East.

Africa

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in Africa was valued at US$1.27 billion, or more than 14% of the US$9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. From 2009 to 2010, the larger- company market there increased by US$329 million, or 35%. The larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend US$387 million in Africa, equivalent to almost 31% of the larger-company market on that continent. From 2009 to 2010, the larger Canadian-based companies budgeted 106% more for Africa. Most of the increases occurred in Burkino Faso, Zambia, Liberia, Niger, Botswana, Mauritania, Mali, Ivory Coast, and Ghana.

Middle East

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in the Middle East was valued at US$67 million. None of the larger Canadian-based companies planned to explore in that region of the world during 2010.

Asia-Pacific

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in Asia-Pacific was valued at US$2.2 billion (Figure 4), or more than 23% of the US$9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. From 2009 to 2010, the larger-company market in the region increased by US$637 million. The larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend US$303 million in Asia-Pacific, equivalent to 14% of the market there. In 2009, the larger Canadian-based companies had planned to spend US$173 million in the region.

Southeast Asia

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in Southeast Asia was valued at almost US$358 million, or roughly 4% of the US$9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. From 2009 to 2010, the market in the region grew by US$131 million. The larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend about US$89 million in the region. The largest budgets were destined for Papua New Guinea.

East Asia

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in East Asia, which includes China, Mongolia, and South Korea, was valued at US$445 million,Footnote 6 or almost 5% of the US$9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. From 2009 to 2010, the market in East Asia increased by US$86 million. The larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend almost US$119 million in the region, equivalent to almost 27% of the market there and up almost 19% from the previous year.

South Pacific

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in the South Pacific was valued at US$1.3 billion, or almost 14% of the US$9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. From 2009 to 2010, the market in the South Pacific increased by US$445 million. The larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend US$93 million in the region, about 115% more than in 2009. Almost all of their budgets for the region were destined for Australia, and those amounts more than doubled in 2010. Australia ranked eighth in the world in terms of countries where the larger Canadian-based companies were the most active in mineral exploration (Figure 6), moving up from tenth place in 2009.

South Asia

In 2010, the larger-company mineral exploration market in South Asia, which includes India and Pakistan, was valued at US$40.2 million, or less than 1% of the US$9.2 billion larger-company market worldwide. In 2010, the size of the market in the region decreased by US$24 million compared to the previous year. The larger Canadian-based companies did not plan any spending in the region in 2010.7

Summary and Outlook

After the precipitous decrease in global exploration budgets in 2009 (due to the economic crisis), 2010 was a year of cautious optimism regarding economic recovery and metal price increases. Mineral exploration companies increased their budgets according to these positive developments, but did not completely recover the amounts lost from 2008 to 2009, reaching about two thirds of the 2008 exploration budget peak.

Significant to Canada was the recovery in large-company spending, which rebounded by 51% globally and by 90% for exploration in Canada. Total budgeted spending worldwide for base metals, precious metals, diamonds, and PGM was US$10.7 billion. Gold projects remained the most popular target as the price of gold remained high.

Globally, exploration increased by 46% from 2009 values, with the largest increase recorded in Canada (US$858 million) followed by Australia (US$362 million), the United States (US$355 million), and Mexico (US$242 million). According to MEG, 1 the economic recovery resulted in higher budget allocations for every region.

The larger Canadian-based companies planned to spend a total of US$3.6 billion, an increase of 97% from 2009. The smaller Canadian-based companies planned to spend US$799 million for a Canadian total of US$4.4 billion (41% of the US$10.7 billion world total). Regaining market share and exploration budgeting, Canada spent more than any other country or region surveyed.

The US$3.6 billion planned by the larger Canadian-based companies represented 39% of the total US$9.2 billion budgeted by all larger companies in the world. Therefore, the larger Canadian-based companies continued to hold a dominant share of mineral exploration programs worldwide.

These Canadian-based larger companies planned to spend 34% (US$1.2 billion) of their budgets in Canada, 12% (US$423 million) in the United States, and 9% (US$308 million) in Mexico. Again in 2010, Canadian-based companies planned to spend more on mineral exploration in foreign regions than they planned to spend in Canada.

In reaction to the 2009 economic crisis, companies decreased the number of properties they were actively exploring in order to preserve their assets and conserve cash. In 2010, companies were more optimistic and the number of large and small exploration and mining companies listed on Canadian stock exchanges increased to 1855 from 1387 in 2009.Footnote 5 At the end of 2010, Canadian companies, both large and small, held interests in more than 10 244 mineral properties worldwide.

Altogether, Canadian companies are well positioned to take advantage of improving economic conditions and advance some of these properties further along the mineral development curve.


Figure 1
Distribution of Global Exploration Budgets, by Location, 2010

Figure 1. Distribution of Global Exploration Budgets, by Location, 2010
Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economic Group’s Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
Notes: Data include base metals, precious metals, and diamonds. Based on 2085 international companies with exploration budgets of at least US$100 000.

Text Version - Figure 1. Distribution of Global Exploration Budgets, by Location, 2010
Country US$ Millions Percent of total
Canada 2 032 19.0%
Australia 1 276 11.9%
United States 829 7.8%
Mexico 630 5.9%
Peru 582 5.4%
Chile 544 5.1%
China 393 3.7%
Russia 377 3.5%
Brazil 354 3.3%
Argentina 282 2.6%
Other countries 3 381 31.7%
Total 10 679 100.0%

Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economic Group’s Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
Notes: Data include base metals, precious metals, and diamonds. Based on 2085 international companies with exploration budgets of at least US$100 000.


Figure 2
Distribution of the World’s Larger Exploration Companies, by Domicile, 2010

Figure 2. Distribution of the World’s Larger Exploration Companies, by Domicile, 2010
Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economics Group’s Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
Notes: Based on 618 companies with budgets of at least US$3 million for precious-metal, base-metal, or diamond exploration.

Text Version - Figure 2. Distribution of the World’s Larger Exploration Companies, by Domicile, 2010
Domicile Number of companies Percent
Canada 298 48.2%
Asia-Pacific 182 29.4%
Europe and the FSU 55 8.9%
United States 36 5.8%
Africa and the Middle East 18 2.9%
Latin America and the Caribbean 29 4.7%
Total 618 100.0%

Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economics Group’s Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
Notes: Based on 618 companies with budgets of at least US$3 million for precious-metal, base-metal, or diamond exploration.


Figure 3
Exploration Budgets of the World’s Larger Companies, by Domicile, 1998-2010

Companies With Worldwide Budgets of at Least US$3 Million in 2010 for Precious-Metal, Base-Metal, or Diamond Exploration
Figure 3: Exploration Budgets of the World’s Larger Companies, by Domicile, 1998-2010
Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economics Group’s Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
Notes: The worldwide exploration budgets of companies that intended to spend less than US$3 million in 2010 and an equivalent amount in previous years are excluded. The worldwide exploration budgets for other commodities such as uranium or industrial minerals are also excluded.

Text Version - Figure 3. Exploration Budgets of the World’s Larger Companies, by Domicile, 1998-2010

Figure 3. Exploration Budgets of the World's Larger Companies, by Domicile, 1998-2010
Companies With Worldwide Budgets of at Least US$3 Million in 2010 for Precious-Metal, Base-Metal, or Diamond Exploration

Domicile 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
(constant 2010 US$ millions)
Canadian company budgets worldwide 513.2 356.5 380.2 294.2 272.3 404.4 783.2 1 252.4 2 159.8 3 252.0 4 684.1 1 773.7 3 606.4
Foreign company budgets worldwide 1 200.8 944.5 822.3 757.9 649.8 792.2 1 359.0 1 920.5 2 799.4 4 303.9 6 497.8 4 174.8 5 633.6
Canadian company share of worldwide budgets 29.94% 27.40% 31.62% 27.96% 29.53% 33.79% 36.56% 39.47% 43.55% 43.04% 41.89% 29.82% 39.03%
Total large exploration budgets 1 714.0 1 301.0 1 202.5 1 052.1 922.2 1 196.5 2 142.3 3 172.9 4 959.2 7 555.9 11 181.9 5 948.5 9 240.0

Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economics Group’s Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
Notes: The worldwide exploration budgets of companies that intended to spend less than US$3 million in 2010 and an equivalent amount in previous years are excluded. The worldwide exploration budgets for other commodities such as uranium or industrial minerals are also excluded.


Figure 4
Exploration Budgets of the World’s Larger Companies for Selected Regions of the World, 2009 and 2010

Companies With Worldwide Budgets of at Least US$3 Million for Precious-Metal, Base-Metal, or Diamond Exploration
Figure 4: Exploration Budgets of the World’s Larger Companies for Selected Regions of the World, 2009 and 2010
Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economics Group’s Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
Notes: The worldwide exploration budgets of companies that intended to spend less than US$3 million in 2010 and an equivalent amount in previous years are excluded. The worldwide exploration budgets for other commodities such as uranium or industrial minerals are also excluded.

Text Version - Figure 4. Exploration Budgets of the World’s Larger Companies for Selected Regions of the World, 2009 and 2010

Figure 4. Exploration Budgets of the World’s Larger Companies for Selected Regions of the World, 2009 and 2010
Companies With Worldwide Budgets of at Least US$3 Million for Precious-Metal, Base-Metal, or Diamond Exploration

Year Latin America Asia-Pacific Canada Africa and the Middle East Europe and the FSU United States Other Areas
(US$ millions)
2009
Companies based in Canada 556.2 172.6 553.5 187.7 132.1 221.2 2.5
Companies based elsewhere 1 165.3 1 344.1 295.3 818.6 518.1 155.6 0.6
Total 1 721.5 1 516.7 848.8 1 006.3 650.2 376.8 3.1
2010
Companies based in Canada 1 060.3 303.4 1 221.3 387.3 208.0 422.6 3.5
Companies based elsewhere 1 552.7 1 850.2 392.0 947.9 613.3 275.3 2.2
Total 2 613.0 2 153.6 1 613.3 1 335.2 821.3 697.9 5.7

Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economics Group’s Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
Notes: The worldwide exploration budgets of companies that intended to spend less than US$3 million in 2010 and an equivalent amount in previous years are excluded. The worldwide exploration budgets for other commodities such as uranium or industrial minerals are also excluded.


Figure 5
Exploration Budgets of the World’s Larger Companies for Canada and Elsewhere, 1998-2010

Companies With Worldwide Budgets of at Least US$3 Million for Precious-Metal, Base-Metal, or Diamond Exploration
Figure 5. Exploration Budgets of the World’s Larger Companies for Canada and Elsewhere, 1998-2010
Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economics Group’s Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
Notes: The worldwide exploration budgets of companies that intended to spend less than US$3 million in 2010 and an equivalent amount in previous years are excluded. The worldwide exploration budgets for other commodities such as uranium or industrial minerals are also excluded.

Text Version - Figure 5. Exploration Budgets of the World’s Larger Companies for Canada and Elsewhere, 1998-2010

Figure 5. Exploration Budgets of the World’s Larger Companies for Canada and Elsewhere, 1998-2010
Companies With Worldwide Budgets of at Least US$3 Million for Precious-Metal, Base-Metal, or Diamond Exploration

Year 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
(constant 2010 US$ millions)
Canadian budgets for Canada 140.3 113.9 133.1 95.1 114.1 160.6 299.2 425.7 759.7 1 184.9 1 581.5 537.8 1 221.0
Foreign budgets for Canada 70.3 48.7 60.1 72.8 47.6 87.5 90.9 95.6 109.4 212.6 407.0 286.8 392.0
Total worldwide budgets for Canada 210.6 162.6 193.2 168.0 161.7 248.1 390.1 521.2 869.1 1 397.5 1 988.4 824.6 1 613.3
All budgets for elsewhere 1 503.4 1 138.4 1 009.3 884.1 760.5 948.5 1 752.2 2 651.6 4 090.1 6 158.4 9 193.4 5 123.9 7 626.7
Total worldwide budgets 1 714.0 1 301.0 1 202.5 1 052.1 922.2 1 196.5 2 142.3 3 172.9 4 959.2 7 555.9 11 181.9 5 948.5 9 240.0
Proportion of worldwide budgets for Canada 12.3% 12.5% 16.1% 16.0% 17.5% 20.7% 18.2% 16.4% 17.5% 18.5% 17.8% 13.9% 17.5%

Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economics Group’s Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
Notes: The worldwide exploration budgets of companies that intended to spend less than US$3 million in 2010 and an equivalent amount in previous years are excluded. The worldwide exploration budgets for other commodities such as uranium or industrial minerals are also excluded.


Figure 6
Exploration Budgets of the Larger Canadian-Based Companies, Countries Accounting for 90% of Canadian Budgets, 2010

Companies With Worldwide Budgets of at Least US$3 Million in 2010 for Precious-Metal, Base-Metal, or Diamond Exploration
Figure 6. Exploration Budgets of the Larger Canadian-Based Companies, Countries Accounting for 90% of Canadian Budgets, 2010
Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economics Group’s Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
Notes: The worldwide exploration budgets of companies that intended to spend less than US$3 million in 2010 and an equivalent amount in previous years are excluded. The worldwide exploration budgets for other commodities such as uranium or industrial minerals are also excluded.

Text Version - Figure 6. Exploration Budgets of the Larger Canadian-Based Companies, Countries Accounting for 90% of Canadian Budgets, 2010

Figure 6. Exploration Budgets of the Larger Canadian-Based Companies, Countries Accounting for 90% of Canadian Budgets, 2010
Companies With Worldwide Budgets of at Least US$3 Million for Precious-Metal, Base-Metal, or Diamond Exploration

  
Country Amount Spent by Larger Canadian-Based Companies Percent of Total Cumulative Percent
(US$ millions)
Canada 1 221.3 33.86% 33.86%
United States 422.6 11.72% 45.58%
Mexico 308.4 8.55% 54.13%
Chile 202.2 5.61% 59.74%
Peru 122.6 3.40% 63.14%
Brazil 96.1 2.66% 65.81%
Argentina 84.2 2.33% 68.14%
Australia 81.8 2.27% 70.41%
Colombia 67.3 1.87% 72.27%
Mongolia 65.2 1.81% 74.08%
Papua New Guinea 64.8 1.80% 75.88%
Burkina Faso 59.9 1.66% 77.54%
Russia 59.2 1.64% 79.18%
China 53.7 1.49% 80.67%
Dem. Republic of Congo 46.9 1.30% 81.97%
Mauritania 46.9 1.30% 83.27%
Ecuador 45.7 1.27% 84.54%
Zambia 43.9 1.22% 85.76%
Tanzania 37.0 1.03% 86.78%
Turkey 36.0 1.00% 87.78%
Mali 33.5 0.93% 88.71%
Ghana 31.9 0.88% 89.59%
Finland 30.9 0.86% 90.45%

Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economics Group’s Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
Notes: The worldwide exploration budgets of companies that intended to spend less than US$3 million in 2010 and an equivalent amount in previous years are excluded. The worldwide exploration budgets for other commodities such as uranium or industrial minerals are also excluded.


 
Type Canada Australia Africa and the
Middle East
Europe and
the FSU

United
States

Latin America Other
Asia-Pacific
Total Proportion
of Total
(US$ millions) (%)
Larger companies 3 606.4 1 466.7 585.7 1 231.4 658.1 970.7 721.0 9 240.0 86.53
Smaller companies 798.9 370.0 27.8 91.3 61.3 28.1 61.5 1 438.9 13.47
Total 4 405.3 1 836.7 613.5 1 322.7 719.4 998.8 782.5 10 678.9 100.00

Source: Natural Resources Canada, based on Metals Economics Group's Corporate Exploration Strategies: A Worldwide Analysis.
FSU Former Soviet Union.
Notes: "Larger companies" are defined here as those with budgets for mineral exploration in 2010 of US$3 million or more. Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.


© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2012