By Jeff Lewis
TORONTO (Reuters) – BHP Group plans to almost double exploration spending for base metals within five years, its Chief Technical Officer Laura Tyler said on Wednesday, after shifting its exploration headquarters to Canada.
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.
BHP's board is 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.
"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 $70 million to $80 million, 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.
BHP in March said it would move its head office for global exploration to Toronto from Santiago, Chile.
"That allows us almost to be closer to the action," she said.
The miner has partnered with junior Midland Exploration to explore for nickel in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec.
It also has a joint venture on copper concessions in Ecuador with Vancouver-based Luminex Resources Corp and holds a 12.3% stake in London-listed Solgold, whose Cascabel-Alpala copper-gold project in Ecuador is expected to start production in 2025.
(Reporting by Jeff Lewis; editing by Richard Pullin)