New mineral exploration rig use figures released by IMDEX have revealed strong growth in major mining regions across the globe.
The rig use snapshot, which account for seasonal factors, were contained in an IMDEX presentation to the Macquarie WA Forum on December 2. They were taken in October and updated a similar assessment conducted by IMDEX earlier this year.
The figures, of surface and underground coring and RC rigs, show the fleet is close to capacity in Australia and New Zealand at 81%, up from 72% in April.
European rig use in October was 50%, up from 39%, South America 48% (39%), Africa 57% (54%), Canada 65% (46%), Mexico and Central America 48% (44%).
Globally, rig use increased from 46% in April to 55% in October.
The USA, at 64%, was down from 72% but North America was up from 49% to 59% utilisation.
IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said delivery times for new rigs had increased, and the sector was facing skilled labour shortages and mobility restrictions — but these were short-term constraints.
“We’re seeing recovery and growth in all key IMDEX regions,” he said. “This is flowing through to revenue, and is reflected in increasing demand for IMDEX HUB IQ™ connected sensors and software as companies continue to embrace innovation and new digital ways of working.”
House said there was continuing strong demand for gold, copper and other base metals, but that demand for critical minerals was expected to increase at a faster rate because of the push for decarbonisation.
The profile of exploration spending is shifting, through a combination of targeting, compliance, and drilling at depth, he added.
House said the company’s recent acquisition of Mineportal and investment in Datarock had added strength to IMDEX’s geoscience analytics, artificial intelligence, and computer visualisation capabilities as part of its integrated rock knowledge expertise.
“IMDEX technologies enable us to provide critical insights right through the mining value chain,” he said. “Our global presence is unrivalled and provides a compelling opportunity to embed real value for clients.”