After 2014 proved another dreadful year for the mining industry, the outlook for 2015 is surprisingly varied. Despite continued price deterioration, project suspensions and lack of funding, the BNamericas Mining Survey 2015 reveals a lack of consensus on many basic drivers of mining industry activity.
The varying levels of optimism displayed among survey respondents reflect market volatility as well as a disconnect between the persistent weakness and the feeling that the market has hit bottom and has nowhere to go but up, an idea that many in the sector were already proclaiming a year ago.
There was however overwhelming consensus on the importance of productivity and the vast majority of companies - and not just the mining companies - will be taking steps to increase productivity in 2015.
Another point in common, at least among mining companies, is the intention to spend less this year. Almost two-thirds of mining company respondents said their firms will ratchet back spending in 2015, foretelling the difficult year ahead for providers of goods and services to the industry and a likely slowdown in exploration and project development.
The silver lining of the slowdown has been a partial quieting of political and social noise, as reduced project development and profits lower the sector's profile somewhat. This will give companies a chance to spend more time on detailed studies and stakeholder engagement, should they choose to take it. The 2015 survey results show a softening of beliefs that political or legal uncertainty and community challenges could negatively impact mining investment in Latin America. Comparing the investment climates of countries in the region, Peru surpassed Chile as the nation the most respondents view as most favorable.
This Mining Intelligence Series report analyzes the results of the BNamericas Mining Survey 2015, which received 81 responses between late November and early January from BNamericas' panel of experts, which includes executives and specialists from various entities involved in the mining sector.
Forty-eight percent of total respondents indicated they work for a mining company (39% indicated major producer, 5% junior exploration company and 4% small producer), while 10% said their entity is a provider of equipment, parts and/or maintenance, 9% were from engineering and/or construction firms and 7% from government entities.
Sixty-six percent of respondents said their companies are active or interested in Chile, 38% Peru, 29% Mexico, 20% Colombia, 16% Argentina and 14% Brazil, while 63% said their companies' focus mineral(s) include copper, 39% said gold, 28% silver, 21% lead/zinc, 19% iron ore 17% molybdenum and 21% said "all" minerals.
For some topics, we provide the responses of people representing mining companies separately from those working for other types of entities so as to highlight the differences in perception among the two groups. Where unspecified, figures represent the total pool of responses. Comments from respondents have been edited for length and style. On some graphs, percentage figures may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
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