New mineral exploration rig use figures released today by IMDEX show continued strong activity in most major mining regions internationally.
The combined Australia/New Zealand region continued to be a standout, with rig use at 82% of capacity despite the number of rigs available increasing by 13% over the past year.
Reflecting that growth, IMDEX says March-quarter revenue for its Asia Pacific region including Australia is up 28% on the same time last year.
The rig use snapshot, contained in an IMDEX presentation to the Macquarie Australia Conference on May 4, examines the state of rig use in April this year and updates a similar assessment conducted by IMDEX at the same time last year.
IMDEX used the Macquarie presentation to reveal an overall March-quarter revenue increase of 29% compared with the same time last year.
A further regional breakdown showed revenue in the Americas was up 35%, and Africa and Europe was up 20%.
The rig count figures, of surface and underground coring and RC rigs, showed that rig use was at 62% of capacity in Canada, up from 46% at the same time last year, South America was at 50% (39%), Africa 73% (54%), Europe and the Middle East 48% (39%), and Asia 46% (37%).
Rig use was down in the US at 57%, compared with 72% last year, and Mexico and Central America 42% (44%).
Globally, the rig use figure stood at 56%, up from 46%.
IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said the size of the global rig fleet had decreased from April 2021, as older rigs were retired and new, safer rigs were being commissioned, but resource companies had committed to more exploration and higher standards of HSE, and drillers had committed to buying more rigs.
He said a skilled labour shortage, the replacement trend, rig transfers and a lag between purchase and delivery were responsible for a decrease in the overall size of the global fleet, but these were short-term constraints.
Drillers were buying more rigs as the industry continued to grow, he added.
“The pleasing aspect of our business activity to date is that even in this period of transition of the rig fleet, IMDEX has recorded a 29 per cent increase in third quarter revenue — a result which has outperformed the market,” House said.
The fundamentals driving the sector remain unchanged, he said.
Strong commodity prices were being driven by increasing demand and decreasing reserves, there was an increasing demand for battery metals, strong capital raising across all commodities, and an increasing demand for secure, real-time rock knowledge data and solutions to support remote and automated operations.
“The commitment to growth in exploration by all participants in the resource sector is high and reflects both the positive underlying fundamentals and the sense of urgency required,” House said.
“Execution, however, is likely to take place over a longer period of time than planned, leading to a longer growth cycle.”