Asia targeted as an exploration hot spot
AS the world’s miners prepare for another year of tight commodity supplies, more eyes are turning to developing Asian nations to provide exploration opportunities, as well as an appetite for consumption.
As countries throughout the region open up to foreign investment and regulate their mining sectors, exploration is expanding and new geographic hot spots are emerging.
Asia executive general manager for Melbourne-based miner Oxiana Ltd Peter Albert says recent discoveries have been driven by development in places like Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and China.
‘‘This is largely due to the recent opening up of these countries to foreign investment and also because western companies with advanced exploration techniques are increasingly moving into these countries as the traditional mining centres are revealing fewer and fewer deposits,’’ he said. ‘‘This region will continue to be a focus for us and will no doubt attract more companies as well.’’
Many observers view Oxiana as the perfect example of what can be achieved in a developing Asian nation, despite the political, cultural and logistical challenges.
Oxiana took over Rio Tinto’s Sepon mine in Laos in 2000. In 2005, the mine produced 200,370 ounces of gold and 30,480 tonnes of copper, and studies are under way to significantly expand both gold and copper production by 2009.
Meanwhile, the miner’s share price has grown from just over $1 at the end of 2003 to over $3 today, with a market capitalisation of more than $4 billion.