Copper discoveries drying up
17th August 2018
Resources Rising Stars
New research from S&P Global Market Intelligence shows that copper discovery rates plummeted, despite a huge increase in exploration expenditure (reports MiningNews).
Following a similar report on gold in May, S&P's research found that copper exploration expenditure over the past decade was US$26.6 billion - peaking in 2012 at a record $4.7 billion.
Spending over the past 10 years is more than double the $12.4 billion spent over the preceding 18 years.
Despite the increased expenditure, only 140 million tonnes of copper has been defined in around 29 discoveries over the past 10 years - and almost two thirds is contained across four major deposits: Pampa Escondida, the Kamoa and Kakula deposits, and Los Helados.
That compares with 862.8Mt across 191 discoveries in between 1990 and 2008.
S&P has defined a discovery as a deposit containing more than 500,000 tonnes of copper in resources and/or reserves.
Expenditure in 2016 slumped to pre-boom 2006 levels, but has been on the rise since then.
Alarmingly, there have been no new discoveries since 2014.
S&P senior research analyst Kevin Murphy said the increased budgets had so far failed to identify more new discoveries.
"We forecast that the copper in major discoveries will likely only increase to about 245Mt over the next decade," he said.
"However, we expect the copper production pipeline will remain robust, with additional new capacity expected to maintain production above 2017 levels through 2020 at least."
Image: Financial Tribune
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