Since 1950, only 45% of the discoveries made in the mining sector, have made it into production. And, on average the 35% of projects that do make it all the way, take 12.4 years to get into production.
According to, Minex Consulting’s Richard Schodde, these numbers are influenced by a number of factors, including the size of the deposit – bigger projects tend to get built more often than small projects – and the mineral involved, with gold companies getting the green light more than other metals. Country risk too plays a role, Schodde said, with projects in low risk jurisdictions taking 30 to 40% less time to develop than projects in higher risk jurisdictions.
But, he told a packed room on the second day of the Prospectors and Developers Conference that the most important influence on getting a project from discovery to production is the timing of the business cycle.
“If you miss the first wave of the business cycle, you run the risk of having to wait until the next up-leg of the business cycle to get the mine built. “
“There is no value to you,” he told the explorers in the room, “of finding things that will only be developed in 50 years.”
And, while the time from discovery to development varies, the average time overall has begun to lengthen as mining companies face increased permitting requirements, more complex stakeholder engagements and ever more remote jurisdictions.
This, in turn means that it is ever more important to ensure that, as an explorer, you are on or ahead of the wave. Otherwise, he says. And, as a result, he urged those in the room to start looking as soon as possible.
“The time is ripe for bold companies to start positioning themselves for the next wave of the business cycle.”