Drop in mining investment in 2013

Québec, February 11, 2014 – After reaching a record $5.13 billion in 2012, mining investment experienced a drop in 2013 for the first time in ten years, settling at $3.25 billion, a 36.7% decrease. For 2014, the investment level is expected to be similar to that of 2013, based on intentions expressed by mining companies. This was revealed by the Institut de la statistique du Québec in the 2013-2014 preliminary survey on mining investment in Québec.

No less than 96.1% of mining investment in 2013 was made in the mining triangle formed by the Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord and Nord-du-Québec regions. These regions all posted drops compared to 2012 and only the Côte-Nord, with $1.19 billion (36.7% of total) and the Nord-du-Québec, with $1.08 billion (33.2%), exceeded $1 billion. The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region saw investments fall by 26.6% to $0.85 billion (26.2% of total).

Exploration expenditures down in 2013

In 2013, exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures declined 47.2% to $328 million. This represents a 60.7% decrease when comparing the 2013 data to the historic amount of $834 million reached in 2011. Junior exploration companies remain leaders in exploration expenses with 64.9% of the total ($213 million) in 2013, compared with 67.3% ($418 million) in 2012. In a context of stagnating metal prices and raising production costs, senior companies have implemented major cutbacks in spending, including exploration budgets. Therefore their share of exploration work is now at 26.4% ($86.7 million), compared to 29.1% in 2012. Government corporations represented 8.7% of the total with $28 million in exploration expenditures in 2013.

Gold remained the most sought-after commodity in Québec, representing 37.0% of all exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, i.e. $121 million. In 2011, its share was 53.7% and this decline can be explained in part by the drop in the price per ounce of gold, from US$1,750 in September 2012 to US$1,225 in December 2013. Base metals, especially copper, nickel and zinc, are in second place ($59 million; 18.0%), followed by ferrous metals ($36 million; 10.9%), rare earth elements ($31 million; 9.5%), phosphate ($24 million; 7.3%) and graphite ($11 million; 3.4%).

In 2014, investment level should be similar to that of 2013

According to intentions expressed by mining companies in the last few months, in 2014, mining investment is expected to remain at a level comparable to that of 2013, reaching $3.28 billion. Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures should be up 14.2% in 2014, with a forecast of $374 million.

Data and tables are available on the ISQ website.

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