PDAC-Mining exploration spending set to fall after 3-year rally
* Record $21.5 bln spent last year to search for new deposits
* Total expected to drop in 2013, as juniors struggle -report
* Lackluster metal prices and financing woes hurt sector
By Euan Rocha
TORONTO, March 3 (Reuters) - A three-year surge in exploration spending in the mining industry is likely to come to a grinding halt this year after running up against lackluster metal prices and a sharp fall-off in financing for miners with early stage exploration projects.
That is the conclusion of a new report which warns that persistent uncertainty over global economic growth will crimp the spending flow, especially for early-stage, entrepreneurial explorers that are the industry's lifeblood.
Spending to find and outline new mineral deposits powered to a record $21.5 billion in 2012, according to an annual study by SNL Metals Economics Group, released on Sunday at the opening of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention - the industry's largest annual gathering.
"We expect the pullback in junior budgets to be the main driver of an overall decline in industry spending in 2013," said Jason Goulden, head of metals and mining research for SNL MEG.
Goulden declined to speculate on the size of the anticipated pullback. Still, he noted that juniors typically account for roughly 40 percent of global exploration spending annually. Continued...