B.C. tracks third-highest expenditure in mineral exploration in a decade

By Ernst & Young   

News British Columbia Ernst & Young mining

Robust spend bodes well as the country prepares to meet critical mineral strategies and support the global energy transition

Image courtesy of Ernst & Young.

British Columbia’s exploration industry has found itself resilient in the face of global headwinds, remaining strong through the impact of climbing interest rates, economic turbulence and geopolitical tensions that have plagued the industry in the years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite a troubling year of firsts — with drilling decelerating and exploration marking its first decline in almost a decade — BC still managed its third-highest exploration expenditure in 10 years. That’s thanks, in part, to the continued strength of the copper exploration sector and the province’s Northwest region, where a surge in exploration activity was responsible for 69% of spend in 2023.

But with early-stage exploration down 10% from 2022, and tightening financing conditions taking a toll on grassroots exploration, it will be critical that the industry stay the course to meet the demand for metals needed to support decarbonization efforts for the future.

Launched at the annual PDAC Convention, the British Columbia Mineral and Coal Exploration Survey 2023 is a joint initiative between the Government of British Columbia’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI), the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) and EY Canada. The report analyzes the survey responses, financial reports and press releases from 175 mineral and coal companies operating in BC, responsible for 244 projects across the province. The report provides a deep dive on:

  • How provincial spending compares to global trends
  • Spending intentions, the cyclicity of exploration and the important role BC will play in mineral exploration over the coming year
  • The impact of the federal critical mineral exploration tax credit on copper and coal mining
  • Lifecycle trends, in particular the divide between junior and larger exploration projects and their differing landscapes

Source: EY (Ernst & Young).

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