British Columbia Mineral and Coal Exploration Survey


  • Share

We are pleased to present the findings of our 2016 British Columbia Mineral and Coal Exploration Survey. Data and analysis presented in the survey is based on information collected from 30 prospectors and 177 mineral and coal exploration companies operating in British Columbia (BC) Collectively, these companies represent 259 exploration projects across the Province.

2016 was another challenging year for the exploration industry in BC, as low commodity prices and market uncertainty continued to make it difficult for exploration companies, which rely heavily on investment, to fund exploration activity.

Analysis of survey data identified a number of key themes and observations:

  • $205 million was invested by exploration companies and $1.8 million from prospectors. This represents a $70 million (25%) decline over the prior year and is the lowest level since 2009.
  • Exploration expenditure in the Province has declined for four consecutive years and is $475 million (70%) lower than peak spend of $681 million in 2012.
  • The sector is at the end of a 10- to 15-year mine development cycle in the Province. A number of projects that were approved and funded prior to the 2012 mining downturn that have supported exploration expenditure over the past five years have evolved (or been postponed). Exploration focus has now shifted to less capital-intense grassroots and early-stage exploration.
  • Notwithstanding the current downturn, the industry remained an important source of jobs and was and continues to be an economic contributor to communities throughout the Province.
  • Exploration companies continue to demonstrate their commitment to local communities and First Nations engagement through targeted activities, investment, employment and procurement.
  • Of the Prospectors surveyed, they collectively incurred just under $2 million in exploration expenditures in 2016. Broadly speaking, this expenditure was spread equally across the province’s regions.
  • Looking forward, the outlook for the exploration sector in BC will largely be influenced by the level of investment in grassroots and early-stage exploration that, in turn, will be determined by commodity prices and the ability of exploration companies to raise capital.

About the survey

The British Columbia Mineral and Coal Exploration Survey is a joint initiative between the Government of British Columbia’s Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM), the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) and EY that has been conducted to provide a view of the state of the mineral and coal exploration sector in British Columbia (BC, the Province). The survey examines a wide range of economic, sociopolitical, and organizational issues that impact companies in 2016 and prospectors exploring in the Province, and has been designed to provide previously unavailable insight into the mineral and coal exploration industry in BC.


  • Executive Summary
  • Exploration in British Columbia in 2016
  • Prospecting in BC
  • Appendix I: Exploration Stages
Download BC Minerals and Coal Exploration Survey 2016 as a printable document


British Columbia Mineral and Coal Exploration Survey
as a printable document
(6.6 MB).


 Produced in collaboration with:


AME logo