Québec, November 15, 2017. – The outlook for mining investment is improving in Québec following a steep decline between 2012 ($5.13 billion) and 2015 ($2.49 billion). Data for 2016 show a 2.9% increase in mining investment compared with 2015, to $2.57 billion.
These prospects for growth are reflected in the intentions expressed by companies for 2017. Mining investment should increase by 17.8% compared with 2016, with expenditures totalling $3.02 billion. Exploration and deposit appraisal work expenditures should experience a significant increase of 81.3%, to $539 million. In the same way, mining infrastructure expenditures, which include general rock work, capital costs, and repair and maintenance, are expected to increase by 9.5% to $2.48 billion.
This was revealed in the bulletin Mine en chiffres – L’investissement minier au Québec en 2016 released today by the Institut de la statistique du Québec. The findings are based on data from the Census on Mining Investment in Québec, which were published today on the website of the Institut de la statistique du Québec.
Québec’s main mining regions
The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, where mining activities are mostly focused on gold, experienced a moderate investment decline of 5.6% in 2015, followed by a 25.8% increase in 2016. The Côte-Nord and Nord-du-Québec regions were both particularly affected by the drop in iron and base metal prices and saw their investments drop by 22.0% and 17.0%, respectively, in 2015. This decline continued in 2016, though it was not as significant, reaching 14.2% in Côte-Nord and 1.2% in Nord-du-Québec.
Investment in mine complex development in 2016
In 2016, investment expenditures by operating mines in Québec totalled $2.23 billion. More specifically, general rock work expenditures for mine complex development stood at $899 million, capital expenditures, at $621 million, and repair and maintenance expenditures, at $712 million. Mines where gold is the main commodity extracted figured prominently in Québec, accounting for 48.1% of investment expenditures by Québec mines. Iron ore extraction and processing, including ilmenite (iron and titanium) extraction, came in second place (23.5%), followed by base metal mines (13.2%), then by the diamond mine (12.4%).
Exploration expenditures in 2016
From 2011 to 2015, exploration and deposit appraisal work expenditures went from $834 million to $259 million, a period of steep decline during which expenditures dropped by 68.9%. Starting in 2016, exploration and deposit appraisal activities picked up again, with expenditures totalling $297 million, an increase of 14.6% from 2015. According to the intentions expressed by mining companies for 2017, exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures could reach $539 million, an increase of 81.3%.
In 2016, the Nord-du-Québec region was ranked first in terms of exploration and deposit appraisal work expenditures, which stood at $145 million, accounting for 48.6% of the Québec total. The next highest expenditures in this category were, in descending order, Abitibi-Témiscamingue with $131 million (44.0%), Côte-Nord with $8 million (2.7%), and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean with $3 million (0.9%).Precious metals, gold in particular, remained the most sought-after commodities in Québec in 2016, accounting for 69.3% of exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, for a total of $206 million. They were followed by base metals (16.0% for a total of $48 million). Although gold remained dominant in 2016, mineral exploration tends to diversify in Québec, leaving room for other mineral commodities such as graphite, lithium and rare earths. These accounted for 8.4% of exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures in Québec.