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New mines take nearly 18 years to build in 2020-23

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The average time to build new mines has increased to 17.9 years — almost 18 years — for new mines coming online in 2020-23, a significant jump compared to 12.7 years for mine projects started up 15 years ago, according to new research from S&P S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The timeframe is from discovery to production, across gold, copper, nickel and lithium mines that have begun production since 2000.

Challenges include: longer exploration, permitting and studies phase, and a longer period between the end of feasibility studies and the start of construction, which can be attributed to time spent obtaining financing and construction permits.

Average lead time almost 18 years for mines started in 2020–23 - The Oregon Group - Investment Insights
Nickel mines take the longest gold the shortest - The Oregon Group - Investment Insights

“Our research confirms the industry belief that lead times are getting longer. The average lead time for mines from 2005 to 2009 was 12.7 years, which has grown steadily up to the present. From 2020 to 2023, the average lead time jumped to 17.9 years, fueled by a longer exploration, permitting and studies phase and a longer period between the end of feasibility studies and the start of construction, which can be attributed to time spent obtaining financing and construction permits”

— S&P Global Market Intelligence, Average lead time almost 18 years for mines started in 2020–23

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The Oregon Group

The Oregon Group is an investment research team founded by independent capital markets experts, Anthony Milewski and Justin Cochrane.

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