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Mining CapEx spending on the rise in Q1 16

Despite persistent uncertainty in the mining sector, SNL Metals & Mining data shows that the industry's planned capital spending announced since January 2015 has risen to roughly US$108 billion from US$60.09 billion recorded in late 2015. While this estimate primarily comprises announced costs, which may never actually be spent, it provides context on where companies currently intend to allocate resources.

Last November, SNL Metals & Mining published an analysis of CapEx data, as reported by mining companies through October 2015, which offered insight into spending patterns based on target regions and commodities. The analysis documented CapEx plans totaling US$60.09 billion from 298 announcements.

At that time, the U.S. and Canada together took the top spot for expenditure between Jan. 1 and Oct. 28, 2015, accounting for US$20.29 billion of spending on projects in the two countries. Gold was the highest-ranking commodity globally with US$15.05 billion earmarked in 136 announcements, and copper placed second with US$14.93 billion in 38 announcements.

Five months later, the data paints a different picture. As of April 7, 2016, SNL's database shows aggregate planned CapEx surging to US$108 billion in 505 announcements. Of this total, only US$5.07 billion has been reported spent since January 2015, while the remaining amount will potentially be spent over the next few years. 

Between November 2015 and April this year, the bulk of announced capital spending shifted to Latin American mining projects, which accounted for US$32.43 billion in committed or actual spending. Copper projects, which are especially prevalent in the region, accounted for US$21.13 billion of the US$34.93 billion global total for copper projects.

Gold was a close second globally at US$32.12 billion, having risen 113% since November. Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd. and Newcrest Mining Ltd’s 50/50 late-stage Wafi-Golpu project in Papua New Guinea recently projected investments of US$2.66 billion in initial CapEx, and an additional US$3.73 billion for expansion work.