The province's statistics institute today unveiled its estimates for 2011, as well as preliminary year-end data for 2010.

In 2010, mining companies invested a record amount of $2.5 billion in the sector, an increase of over 22% over 2009. 53% of overall investment was directed towards gold, followed by iron at 19%. For 2011, if mining companies' follow through with planned expenditures, overall investment is expected to increase by another 17% to $2.9 billion. As for exploration and deposit appraisal work, it is expected to grow by another 16% to $560 million.

For 2010, investment made in Quebec's mining sector was almost entirely divided between three regions, with 45% going to the Abitibi-Temiscamingue for a total of $1.1 billion, followed by Northern Quebec at $643 million or 26% and Quebec's North Shore close behind at $601 million or 24%.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenses also saw substantial increases in 2010 reaching $483 million, up 27% from 2009. With the addition of $130 million in off-mine-site capital and repair expenses, total mining exploration investment in 2010 reached $613 million.

The exploration share of junior exploration companies decreased to 61%, down by 4% from 2009, with the largest companies continuing to expand with 37% of total exploration and deposit appraisal expenses. Of these expenses, Gold attracted 51% overall, followed by base metals (copper, nickel, zinc) at 18%, ferrous metals (8%), and uranium (8%). In line with an ongoing current global rush to secure supply, lithium (4%) and rare earths (3%), substances considered exotic a couple of years ago, complete the list.

The foregoing data and tables showing the distribution of mining work in 2010 are available on the Institute's website.