The report, available here, shows while the discovery rate has fallen back to levels last seen 70 years ago, there are reasons to be hopeful. Those reasons are summarised as follows:
A sharp rise in commodity prices will see miners generate higher revenues and greater interest from speculative investors at the junior end; both theoretically provide more exploration budget.
But other opportunities in the fields of technology and data could send the discovery rate skywards.
Technology advances in the exploration space are centred largely around better management, communication and integration of data, as well as machine learning technologies. This doesn't need to be exclusively mineral data but data sets from other industries, most commonly petroleum, can be integrated to build a more complete geological picture.
More and more, sophisticated exploration teams are using data services and technology to design drill programmes and then dynamically manage those programmes to preserve cash - which is ultimately directed toward more holes.
Then there is the availability of government and commercial data.
Currently, data policies across the world vary greatly, while historical data was seen as crucial to exploration success across the world, according to Mining Magazine Intelligence's survey, the findings of which are summarised in the first section of the report.
In places like Australia, government data is freely available along with commercial data handed over by companies when they relinquish their licences. At the other end of the spectrum, many places in the developing and third world see even government data as an opportunity for immediate revenues and charge explorers for access. There is a continuum between these extremes.
As data becomes more prevalent in the exploration process, the availability of data will weigh more heavily when companies decide where to invest. There is an opportunity for jurisdictions with restrictive data policies to provide access, which would not only increase investment but improve discovery rates for dollars invested. The greater the current restrictions, the larger the opportunity.