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Increase in gold exploration dollars spent not yet reflected in new discoveries

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Although gold exploration budgets have fallen from a ten-year peak in 2012, spending on finding new gold ounces remains at historically high levels, a report from S&P shows.

It points out that $54.3-billion has been allocated to gold exploration over the past decade, almost 60% higher than the $32.2-billion spent over the preceding 18-year period.

However, the increase in dollars spent has not yet resulted in more new discoveries or discovered ounces compared with the previous period. Only 215.5-million ounces of gold has been defined in 41 discoveries over the most recent ten years, compared with 1.73-billion ounces in 222 discoveries in the preceding 18 years, the report notes.

“Even after adjusting for more recently identified deposits that might eventually surpass our threshold for a major discovery, and for major discoveries with potential to expand, we forecast that the gold in major discoveries might only increase to about 363-million ounces over the next decade,” it states.

The discoveries dataset prepared by S&P Global Market Intelligence includes all deposits containing over one-million ounces of gold in reserves and past production, or two-million ounces of gold in reserves, resources and past production.

It points out that, while the amount of gold discovered yearly varies widely from year to year, it roughly follows the trend of yearly spending on gold exploration.

Of the 263 major discoveries in the past 28 years, over half were made in the 1990s and contain most of the discovered gold.

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