The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted various activities in the mining industry including exploration.

Verdict has conducted a poll to assess the pandemic’s impact on mining exploration activities in 2020 and 2021.

Analysis of the poll results shows that the outlook for exploration is better for 2021, compared to 2020.

COVID-19 Impact on Mining Exploration

While 20% of the respondents foresaw a significant increase in exploration in 2020, a higher 24% anticipate a significant increase in 2021.

Further, the percentage of respondents who anticipated a slight increase in exploration was higher for 2021 (18%) compared to 2020 (15%).

The percentage of respondents who voted that exploration activities would significantly decrease was 18% in 2020, while it declined to 14% for 2021. Similarly, the percentage of respondents who opined that exploration activities would slightly decrease declined from 19% for 2020 to 16% for 2021.

The percentage of respondents who opined that exploration activities would not be affected remained unchanged for both years, at 28%.

The analysis is based on 479 responses received from the readers of Mining Technology, a Verdict network site, between 10 August 2020 and 08 January 2021.

COVID-19 impact on mining exploration

Mining companies have implemented social distancing and other safety measures to counter the surge in coronavirus cases among workers. Compared to other mining activities, exploration has no issues with social distancing as the activity typically involves remote areas and fewer people.

Exploration, however, is dependent on the health of the mining sector and the demand for minerals. Although the demand for minerals declined during the pandemic due to disruption of supply chains, demand for certain metals and minerals such as gold continues to rise boosting the prospects for exploration.

The level of funding offered through stimulus measures will play a key role in the future of exploration, according to The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.