Quebec’s mining investments are expected to dip to $1.5bn this year, representing a 25% drop compared to more than $2bn in investment last year, Quebec’s statistics agency said.

Exploration expenditure is likely to drop by 50% to $244m, while exploration costs are expected to rise to $526m, representing a 10% hike compared to 2008 and the highest since 1987.

Junior exploration companies constituted 78% of investment and exploration expenditure.

The North, Abitibi-Temiscamingue and the North Shore regions of Quebec accounted for 95%.

Gold accounted for more than 50% of exploration funds followed by copper, nickel and zinc at 23%, uranium at 17%, ferrous metals at 4% and diamonds at 2%.