Québec, November 16, 2016 – After nine years of growth and a record high of $5.1 billion in 2012, mining investment in Québec continued to decline, reaching $2.5 billion in 2015, a level close to that of 2009 ($2.0 billion). Between 2009 and 2012, there was an especially rapid upswing in mining investment in Québec. Data for 2015 shows a 16.2% drop in investment from the previous year and a 51.4% decline compared to the peak in 2012. By the end of 2014, mining investment was down 35.0%.
According to the intentions expressed by mining companies in 2016, mining investment will drop by 4.8% in comparison with 2015, for a total investment of approximately $2.4 billion. Exploration and deposit appraisal investments will drop by 7.0% to $241 million. Mine complex development investments, including general rock work, capital costs, repairs and maintenance, will decrease by 4.6% to $2.1 billion.
This was revealed in the Mines en chiffres 2015 bulletin released today by the Institut de la statistique du Québec. The findings are taken from the Survey on Mining Investment in Québec, the data of which have been published today on the website of the Institut de la statistique du Québec.
Main mining regions in Québec
The Côte-Nord was hard hit in 2015, with a 22.0% investment decrease, which was mainly due to a collapse of iron ore prices that started in 2014 and continued in 2015. This region had already experienced a 59.3% drop in its investments in 2014. The Nord-du-Québec and Abitibi-Témiscamingue regions saw their investment levels drop by 17.0% and 5.6%, respectively. Yet, it is Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, an emerging mining region, that was hit with the most significant drop: 52.0%.
Mine complex development investments in 2015
Despite difficult economic conditions in 2013, mine complex development investments remained relatively high, decreasing by 7.0% from 2012. However, these investments declined by 36.6% in 2014 and 16.0% in 2015.
In 2015, mine complex development expenditures in production or construction totalled $2.2 billion, broken down as follows: $919 million in general rock work, $651 million in capital costs (non-residential construction, machinery and equipment) and $662 million in non-capital repair and maintenance expenditures. Mines where gold is the main commodity extracted figured prominently in Québec, accounting for 41.9% of mine complex expenditures. Iron and ilmenite (iron and titanium) mines came in second with 28.6% of these expenditures.
Exploration expenditures in 2015
In 2012 and 2013, mine exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures dropped, respectively, by 25.6% and 38.5%. These expenditures decreased 16.9% in 2014 and 18.2% in 2015, reaching $259 million. According to the intentions expressed by mining companies in 2016, mine exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures could reach $241 million, another 7.0% drop. Although this downward trend will last at least into 2016, it is starting to be mitigated.
In 2015, the Nord-du-Québec region was ranked first in terms of exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures ($144 million), 55.4% of the Québec total. The next highest expenditures in this category were, in descending order, Abitibi-Témiscamingue with $79 million (30.6%), Côte-Nord with $16 million (6.1%) and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean with $4 million (1.7%).
Precious metals, gold in particular, remained the most sought-after commodities in Québec, accounting for 46.6% of exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, for a total of $121 million. These were followed by base metals (31.3% for a total of $81 million). There was obvious interest in iron ore and ilmenite (iron and titanium), rare earths and graphite, as exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures for these commodities totalled 16.3% ($42 million) in Québec. These expenditures can be broken down as follows: $15 million for iron ore and ilmenite, $15 million for rare earths and $12 million for graphite.
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