The province of Quebec's Statistical Institute ("QSI") today released its 2009 analysis of mining sector data which confirms that notwithstanding diminished investment, the sector remained strong in 2009. The QSI based its analysis on preliminary data gathered from mining companies through Q3 2009. In total, $1.67 billion was invested in the province's mining sector, down 17% from the preceding record year, but in line with 2007.

Quebec's Abitibi-Temiscamingue region led investment with a total of $661million, mostly as a result of Osisko's flagship Canadian Malartic project, as well as Agnico-Eagle's continued work on the LaRonde, Lapa and Goldex projects. The Côte-Nord region followed with $508 million in investments, due to several iron ore projects.

Investments in exploration diminished slightly more during the financial downturn ($370 million), down 34% from 2008, however consistent with the 5-year average. Exploration by juniors slipped from 78% to 64% of the total, with the majors playing a more active role.

At an average price per ounce close to $1100 in 2009, gold remains the main mining play, taking up 61% of the total exploration and extraction investments. Copper, Zinc and Nickel dropped to 16%, slightly ahead of Uranium, at 13% and Lithium, which drew 1.6% of 2009 investments.

Detailed tables showing 2009 mining investment in Quebec are available on the QSI's website (French only).

2010 may very well be a record-breaking year, as mining companies have indicated that they expect to increase overall investment 30% compared to 2009, up to $2.2 billion, of which $467 million will be for exploration activities.