Have you heard the industry wisdom that new mine startup times are taking longer than they used to take? 

It’s true. According to a new article published by S&P Global Market Intelligence, new mines coming online from 2020 to 2023 are now taking 17.9 years compared to 12.7 years for mines started up 15 years ago—a staggering increase of 41%.

This article is an update to an earlier one, and the study includes gold, copper, nickel, and lithium mines that have started production since 2000. The previous study included these three main points that have held:

  • For a mine to go from a deposit discovery to startup takes approximately 16 years on average. 
  • Longer exploration and permitting phases for open-pit mines mean they have a longer average lead time than underground mines. 
  • The extended construction period for nickel mines is a key factor in their prolonged lead time. This was further exacerbated by the discovery of several mines in the mid-1980s and 1990s, a period of lower nickel prices that may have led to tighter access to capital.

Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence


Attribution for the Chino open-pit copper mine photo: Marshman at the English Wikipedia under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en