Africa – the land of mining opportunity. That is the view of members in Earthstaff’s Mining & Mineral Exploration network on LinkedIn which asked over 750 employees, managers and senior level personnel working in the mining industry across the globe which continent they expected to see the highest levels of mineral exploration in the coming months.
42% of respondents feel that the vast continent of Africa will be the most active in terms of mineral exploration this year. The head of a global mining consultancy firm commented, “We are seeing increasing stability of various African Governments and an improvement of legal framework, especially with mining policies which will in turn encourage productivity. The quality of the continent’s infrastructure continues to develop which will allow for easier access to potential mining sites.”
South and Central America are the regions which 25% of the poll’s participants believed would experience the most activity. This region of the world has thousands of miles of untouched land which gives great scope for sites for mining firms. However, a reason why these continents did not receive as many votes as Africa could be because of numerous indigenous communities from the likes of Peru, Columbia and Bolivia who fiercely oppose the expansion of mining operations and continue to put up barriers to exploration. Receiving the lowest amount of votes in the poll were Australia (10%) and North America (2%), with one respondent saying: “Both North America and Australia will not experience significant levels of productivity compared to other regions because typically any exploration that takes place will be in and around existing sites.”
Alternatively, there is a feeling that the most explored location may not be on any of the six continents at all. Deep Sea Mining is on the rise and several professionals within the industry have voiced a prediction that the ocean floor is the ‘hot’ location for mineral exploration. One exploration geologist argues:
I believe the focus is going to be on exploration and exploitation of the deep sea. The resources on land are pale in relation to what can be found beneath the sea bed. A variety of commodities such as cassiterite, limonite, gold, diamond and platinum can be found at the bottom of the sea and there is now technology available which allows for an easier and cheaper recovery of materials up to 6000 metres in depth.
Andrew Emons, a specialist Mining Consultant at Earthstaff agrees with the general consensus of the poll:
Just like the voting suggests, I do agree that Africa will be the most productive in terms of exploration in 2013. Africa has great potential with the fact that so much of the land is largely untouched and more importantly, the land is rich in various commodities, West Africa in particular has large reserves of gold and iron ore. As the governments continue to be ever more stable and the prospect of the price of commodities expected to rise, Africa I feel will most certainly be the global hub of mining exploration in the immediate future