"This number responds to the downward trend since 2014, since when the majority of projects have been suspended. [It is] a challenge to reverse this condition," said executive vice president Manuel José Fernández.
The 2018 study shows a slight increase in the number of projects compared with the 294 recorded in 2017. Copper and gold continue to be the main minerals of interest. Cochilco identified 110 companies with exploration projects in Chile, of which 74 are juniors, 16 medium-size companies, four state, national or foreign agencies and 16 'others', such as companies formed as joint ventures.
Cochilco reported the aggregate exploration budget fell to US$576.2 million in 2018, some $27 million less than in 2017 and ranking Chile sixth worldwide.
"Reviewing the composition, major companies remain the most relevant actors with 89% of the total budget. Juniors not only lowered their participation, they also reduced their budget 52% compared to the prior year," said Fernández.
Cochilco has produced an exploration census since 2012.