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Author: Geoff Candy
Posted: Tuesday , 07 May 2013

GRONINGEN (Mineweb) – 

The mining industry’s search for new ounces fell to a new low in March, extending a 17-month decline in exploration activity.


This is according to IntierraRMG’s latest State of the Market report.


According to the group’s online database, there were drilling reports from a total of only 355 prospects (it adds that this figure includes reports from more than one drilling prospect per project). This, it says is compared to “440 in February, 662 in January and (a restated) 367 in December 2012”.


“Gold-exploration has been particularly weak, with activity reported from just 172 prospects in March, compared with 199 in February, 350 in January and 382 in March 2012. Last month’s gold activity is still better, however, than the nadir of 157 prospects reported in December,” the group writes.


While the number of drills turning at gold prospects fell in absolute terms during the quarter, the search for the yellow metal continues to dominate the overall figures. During the quarter 651 gold projects reported drilling activity, IntierraRMG says, as compared to only 192 copper projects, 154 silver projects, 63 zinc projects and 42 lead projects.


On a cumulative basis, IntierraRMG says, exploration activity for the quarter amounted to 1,457 prospects, compared with 2,467 prospects in the first quarter of 2012 and 1,959 in the first quarter of 2011. Again, IntierraRMGprovides the caveat that these numbers might include multiple reports of drilling from the same prospect.


The news isn’t all bad, however. The group points out that despite the overall disappointment, there have been some mildly encouraging statistics from Australia.


“Reports of drilling activity in Australia for gold, lead and zinc rose in the March quarter, compared with the December period. Companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) also fared rather better overall than those whose primary listings are on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), or in Canada on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) or TSX-Venture Exchange (together TMX),” the group says.


And, it says, despite the cut-back in exploration activity since the end of 2011, there was a mixed picture in terms of new minerals resources and ore reserves.


“Although there has been a sharp fall in reported new copper and zinc resources, and in copper reserves (measured in terms of contained metal), there has been a quarter-on-quarter increase in reserves of gold, silver and zinc,” it says.


Adding, “Gold reserves reported during the March quarter jumped to 23.8Moz, compared with only 15.7Moz of new gold reserves in the December quarter. However, these new reserves are only half of the gold reserves reported in the year-ago quarter (50.1Moz). New gold resources were little changed at 78.3Moz, but still well behind the 174.2Moz reported in the year-ago quarter.”

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