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By Gary Park 

Gold explorers in full swing again


Last updated 9/12/2004 at Noon

Healthy bullion prices are driving a resurgence of exploration spending in Canada, with budgets at their highest level in seven years.

In a note to clients, National Bank Financial said that "after a prolonged drought," second quarter spending was up 20 percent from a year earlier, 75 percent ahead of 2002 and 100 percent above the late 1990s, when gold prices were only half of today's US$400 an ounce.

The Canadian bank said North America's 11 largest gold producers hiked their exploration budgets to US$28 an ounce in the April-June period, the highest level since 1996.

Placer Dome led the pack at US$38 an ounce, or a total of US$34 million, followed by Newmont Mining at US$29 an ounce or US$48 million. Placer has targeted spending of US$75 million this year, with its focus on Eastern Canada, Nevada, Western Australia and Tanzania.


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