Mineral Exploration in Sask. Went Downhill in '17

Saskatchewan may be viewed as the most attractive place in the world for mineral exploration companies to spend their money, but the latest estimates on spending in the province may give the lie to that perception.

Figures released by Natural Resources Canada Spending on mineral exploration and deposit appraisal declined for the second year in a row.

That's despite Saskatchewan ranking first in a 2016 industry poll, released earlier this year, that asked companies which jurisdiction across the world has the most enticing environment for investment.

In 2017, companies spent $181 million looking for Saskatchewan's next uranium mine or other commodity churner.

That's down 21% from last year and represents the second-biggest year-over-year drop — behind only Nunavut — among provinces or territories where the dollar value of activity took a dive last year.

It's also down from 2015, when $257 million was spent in Saskatchewan.

Officials blame the decline partly on Saskatchewan, and the rest of Canada, losing business to other continents such as South America, Africa, Australia and even some Scandinavian countries.

Natural Resources Canada's figures aren't final: they're based on an early 2017 survey of what companies planned to spend this year and a checkup later in 2017 on actual spending. They'll be revised again in early 2018.

But they offer some idea of how much money is being spent to find sources of new jobs and future royalties for the provincial government.