Continuing the theme of Q2-2019, the third quarter was marked by diverging trends among commodities. Macroeconomic conditions have continued to deteriorate, with global GDP growth estimates being revised lower and industrial indicators in many major economies entering negative territory. Although China and the U.S. hit pause on their trade dispute in early October, the outlook remains cloudy, with a weakening demand outlook causing copper and zinc prices to continue falling over the quarter. In contrast, nickel prices jumped sharply over speculation that Indonesia would enact a ban on nickel ore exports at year-end, while the gold price broke through US$1,500 per ounce in August, and has remained steady around this level going into October.
Despite the challenging macroeconomic outlook, the exploration sector picked up strongly in the September quarter after reaching a multiyear low in the previous quarter. Gold-focused efforts, in particular, reached their highest levels since the March 2013 quarter, as financing activity reacted positively to the gold price, while drilling activity, new resources and positive project announcements all rebounded strongly.
However, we do not expect 2019 exploration activity to outpace 2018 levels, as our analysis of 2019 exploration budgets in our Corporate Exploration Strategies series has recorded an overall 3% decline in planned exploration expenditure for the year. This research confirms the diverging conditions among commodities, with budgets for gold falling 12%, copper budgets rising 12% and nickel budgets jumping 18%.
As 2019 comes to a close, join us to recap the September quarter. Hear our views for the remainder of the year and expectations for 2020.
- Commodity price trends, drivers and estimates
- Drilling activity and exploration metrics
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Quarterly financing activity
- 2019 exploration budget trends
- 2020 outlook