Grant Thornton Australia is pleased to present the findings from our seventh annual survey of Junior Mining and Exploration companies (JUMEX). This report, which we are proud to prepare in collaboration with AMEC and ANZ, provides a comprehensive market overview of the Junior Mining and Exploration sector in Australia.
After several challenging years, we are seeing a definite improvement in market conditions for junior miners, that has been sustained now for over six months.
In the report we outline the findings of the survey, including the experiences of junior miners regarding fund raising, investor sentiment, challenges and constraints to business and also their corporate strategies, expectations and intentions for the future. We also explore ideas for growth and positioning for success including:
- opportunities for innovation and benefits of adopting new technologies
- the importance of the board and the benefits of diversity of thought at the board level
- opportunities for exploring partnerships and collaborating
- ways to build investor trust and support
Jumex 2015 – A survey of junior mining and exploration companies
Grant Thornton Australia's 2015 Junior Mining and Exploration survey, now in its sixth year, confirms continuing worrying trends which impact the competitiveness and longer term sustainability of the junior mining sector.
The top findings from our research are:
- Funding remains a persistent concern
- There is intense competition for capital
- The search for investors is more global in nature than ever before
- We expect failure and consolidation to increase
- There is a burning platform for explorers to innovate and be collaborative
- The bottom line is that explorers are exploring less and less each year
- Regulatory challenges remain a persistent concern
- There is a strong trend to refocus on Australia
- Ongoing commodity pricing pressures continue to be a constraint
- Employment is expected to remain at low levels
Click here to read the full report.
Grant Thornton Australia's 2014 Junior Mining and Exploration survey, now in its fifth year, confirms worrying trends which continue to impact the competitiveness and longer term sustainability of the junior mining sector.
But, we are also seeing early signs of improvement in some areas of the industry.
The top 10 findings from our research are:
- Funding constraints at crisis point for some
- Commodity prices are expected to increase
- Regulatory challenges persist
- Investor interest is starting to improve
- Funding for the future discovery pipeline is needed
- Competition for capital is intense
- Market conditions remain difficult
- M&A outlook is up
- Improvements will not be dramatic
- Employment conditions remain depressed
JUMEX survey 2013
2013 was yet another year of poor investor appetite for exploration and volatility of commodity prices and financial markets. As these market conditions continue JUMEX companies walk the very fine line between a need to conserve cash and a need to add value to projects in order to give the company the best chance of attracting investor interest. JUMEX companies have adapted and show remarkable resilience, helped by the experience of many previous economic cycles.
The key findings of our 2013 JUMEX survey include:
- The most significant constraint to business continues to be the availability of equity finance
- 67% of companies that undertook fund raisings in the past 12 months experienced moderate or significant challenges in doing so
- 41% of respondents hold cash balances of less than $2 million, an increase from 35% in FY12
- Competition for capital continues to be very high, with 46% of companies anticipating a need to raise funds within the next 6 months (FY12 44%)
- To secure funding, half (51%) of companies expect to have to price their next equity raising at a significant discount and over half (56%) expect to conduct overseas investor presentations to expand the pool of potential investors
- Major changes have been made by most JUMEX companies in order to survive – most commonly cessation of discretionary expenditure, focus on core assets, reduction of overheads, reduction in staff numbers and reductions in director fees
- JUMEX companies are dynamic companies – 81% are considering a major corporate transaction in the coming 12 months
- Half of respondents (49%) are considering acquisitions of projects in the coming 12 months and Australia remains the most popular location for new project acquisitions by some way
- The industry is crying out for governments to help stimulate activity whilst also removing barriers to growth
- Whilst JUMEX companies are generally optimistic about commodity prices, with only 18% of respondents expecting the price of the commodity of their flagship project to decline in the coming 12 months, volatility of commodity prices is still expected to be a major constraint to business for FY14
The age-old adage that funding will always be available for quality projects is being and will continue to be tested. In the case of more marginal projects the challenges will be even more severe, with the need and competition for equity capital to be particularly high during the coming twelve months.
Our key findings included:
- The most significant constraints to business have been, and are expected to continue to be, the availability of equity capital and general financial market instability
- The competition for capital is high with 68% of companies planning to raise capital in the coming twelve months
- For a significant portion of companies the requirement to raise capital in the short term is apparent with 35% of companies holding less than $2 million in cash and a further 29% holding between $2 million and $5 million
- A move towards alternative funding mechanisms such as joint ventures and asset sales
- Decreasing and volatile commodity prices have been a particular constraint for 2012 compared to previous years, with the volatility expected to continue in 2013
- The Australian public policy environment (with the introduction of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, Carbon Tax, LAFHA changes, etc.) has created significant uncertainty in the industry and has had an overwhelmingly negative impact on respondents’ perception of overseas investment sentiment towards Australia
JUMEX survey 2011
The majority of JUMEX companies surveyed indicated that access to skilled labour is the key constraint to their businesses in 2011. Despite the renewed optimism generally, this issue is likely to continue to impact on each company’s ability to undertake and deliver economically viable projects in a timely manner. The effectiveness of current and future government initiatives to assist and alleviate this skills shortage and address the core drivers such as mobility, education and training issues will be critical. Respondents are also acknowledging the challenge for the industry as a whole to increase their involvement.
Other key findings included:
- The availability of equity funding continues to be a key constraint although some junior resource companies have already returned to the markets to raise funds and the vast majority expect to do so in the next two years.
- Interest from overseas investors continues to grow with a significant number of respondents indicating that they have been approached by overseas investors keen to invest in their businesses.
- A lack of clarity on Government regulation, particularly in relation to mining and carbon taxes, continues to create uncertainty in the sector and has the potential to reduce the international competitiveness of the Australian mining
JUMEX survey 2009
The majority of junior mining and exploration companies surveyed have a low current cash balance, with a requirement to raise funds within a year. Most envisaged the availability of equity funding to be a major restraint in their business in the year ahead. The challenge in the industry is to find ways to raise these funds in times when equity markets are strained and fundraising for explorers has all but dried up.
Other key findings included:
- A huge 94% of respondents believe their current share price significantly undervalues the company and its assets.
- The majority (84%) of JUMEX companies surveyed have had to make changes in their business, due to current economic conditions. 47.5% expect to make further changes in the 2009 calendar year.
- Respondents are generally optimistic about commodity prices with 80% expecting an increase in the price of their key resource commodity over the next 12 months.
- In response to market conditions, 78% of companies are considering undertaking a major corporate transaction in the coming 12 months.
Holly Stiles, National Head of Energy & Resources, T +61 2 8297 2487