The Metals Economics Group (MEG) reported in late September 2009 that worldwide exploration spending for precious and base metals, diamonds, uranium, and some industrial metals will total about $8.4 billion in 2009, down from $14 billion in 2008. The preliminary estimate for 2009 was based on work being done on MEG’s annual study, Corporate Exploration Strategies, which was scheduled for release in late October.

The decline in exploration spending in 2009 follows six consecutive years of increases. “Not surprisingly, with such a substantial drop, allocations for all commodities, at all stages, in all regions are down,” MEG said. Junior mining companies are accounting for the largest share of the overall decline; however, despite their contribution to the overall decline, the attrition rate within the junior ranks has not reached the significant level predicted by some analysts earlier in the year, MEG said. Most major and intermediate producers also made deep cuts in their exploration spending this year.

MEG’s estimates are based on information collected from more than 2,800 mining and exploration companies worldwide, of which almost 2,000 had exploration budgets in 2009.