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Continuing the trend from the previous quarter, metal markets continued to rebound into September as China's economic recovery gained momentum while the U.S. dollar weakened. Although the quarter ended with softening prices for many commodities, as economic fears rose amid rising COVID-19 cases, the mining sector was in a relatively strong position, with an aggregate market value of $1.55 trillion — the highest quarter-end value since the December 2017 quarter.
Rising prices for many commodities since the depth of pandemic-induced concern in late March have contributed to the positive sentiment in the sector, with exploration faring significantly better than expected. Market Intelligence's measure of exploration activity surged to an almost eight-year high in July, and remained elevated throughout the quarter as explorers capitalized on strong equity market support and post-lockdown re-activation of drilling programs. This mixture of influences contributed to exploration budgets for 2020 falling by only 11% year over year, significantly better than feared at the end of March.
As 2020 enters its final quarter, join us to recap the September quarter and hear our expectations for the remaining of the year and 2021, in the following topics:
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