BHP to double exploration spend as ups search for base metals

BHP would double its exploration spending for base metals within five years, the group’s chief technical officer, Laura Tyler told Reuters.

Tyler acknowledged the group – which shifted its exploration headquarters to Canada where it will be “closer to the action” – had probably underspent on exploration in the past.

BHP’s board is also expected to make a call on its Jansen potash project in Canada as the miner looks to raise its exposure to new economy minerals including copper and nickel, seen as cornerstones of the world’s transition towards cleaner energy, said Reuters.

“Over the years we believe we have spent less than we should be spending on exploration,” Tyler told Reuters in an interview.

Global exploration spending for base metals will nearly double within five years from the current annual $70m to $80m, she said, excluding outlays for early-entry joint ventures. “So we are significantly increasing the amount we’re spending just as our base load,” she said.

The world’s biggest listed miner is expected to log bumper profits in August on booming prices for iron ore, but the pipeline for new projects is thin, said Reuters.

BHP in March said it would move its head office for global exploration to Toronto from Santiago, Chile.

Glencore’s outgoing CEO, Ivan Glasenberg, said at a conference this week that the world would have to double copper production in order to meet demand over the next 30 years.

“Today, the world consumes 30 million tons of copper per year and by the year 2050, following this trajectory, we’ve got to produce 60 million tons of copper per year,” he said. “If you look at the historical past 10 years, we’ve only added 500,000 tons per year … Do we have the projects? I don’t think so. I think it will be extremely difficult.”