Despite the global mining industry is showing the first signs of recovery, a study published last week says that only about 50% of junior miners currently operating in British Columbia, Canada, will be around by 2015.
The report, commissioned by the British Columbia Securities Commission, predicts a massive exodus of mining companies and exploration endeavours in the next three to five years.
“Between 30% and 50% of junior are not expected to survive,” said one participant in the in-depths interviews with mining executives that made up the report. “30% is fine, and perhaps required, but 50% is not.”
Large miners are expected to continue shedding non-core assets, such as exploration programs, mine development plans and high cost operating mines, said the report. But the 15 mining executives interviewed agreed this is healthy and part of the industry’s natural cycle.
The reason, says the document, is that juniors are competing for already limited available capital, so “when stronger and better-established juniors remain in the market,” investor confidence will come back and even increase.
“There’s no doubt mining brings a great deal of revenue to the province, but let’s remember one important point – juniors find the deposits and prove them up to the point where a major would step in and buy them. Consider another point – when was the last time you heard of a major mining company making a discovery?” wrote last week analyst Richard Mills.
Some of the executives interviewed, however, expressed concern that the longer the delay in the recovery of the B.C. mining sector, “the more damage will be done to Vancouver’s reputation as a mining centre of excellence.” They said this is bound to happen as some of the supporting key actors, such as independent brokers, lawyers, accountants, and geologists, are disappearing.
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