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The global metals industry is bouncing back hard from the COVID-19 pandemic, enjoying major exploration budget increases in 2021.

The sector enjoyed a 35 per cent increase in global nonferrous exploration budget year-on-year, jumping from $US8.3 billion ($11.2 billion) in 2020 to $US11.2 billion ($15.1 billion) in 2021.

Australia’s efforts in early-stage metals exploration contributed to grassroots’ share of budget allocations rising from 24 to 26 per cent year-on-year.

Despite this, the grassroots’ share of the allocation was at its second lowest number on record, with 2020 the only year it fell lower.

It comes as S&P Global’s Market Intelligence division released its 2021 global metals exploration budget data as part of its Corporate Exploration Strategies series.

S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Metals and Mining research team principal analyst Kevin Murphy said the resurgence comes down to several factors.

“A faster-than-expected recovery in market conditions and easing of lockdowns allowed explorers to reactivate programs by mid-2020, which caused some programs to carry over into 2021,” he said.

“Along with higher metals prices and increased financing activities, this has led to a strong budget recovery in 2021.”

Murphy also noted an uptick in economical faith as the COVID-19 pandemic slowly settles.

“As we move into the last quarter this year, metal prices and financings remain robust, and the risk of further pandemic-related shutdowns has declined. As a result, we expect the aggregate exploration budget to increase between 5 per cent and 15 per cent year-over-year for 2022,” he said.

In August, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) presented updated exploration expenditures for 2021, indicating improved exploration spends in metals, gold and copper.

Australia’s gold exploration grew by 41 per cent year-on-year to $430 million over 2021’s June quarter, while copper exploration increased 44 per cent year-on-year to $120 million over the same period.