Our exploration program is directed at replacing mineral reserves as they are depleted by our production, and is key to sustaining our business. However, during this period of weak uranium prices, and as we have ample idled production capacity, we have reduced our spending to focus only on exploration near our existing operations where we have established infrastructure and capacity to expand. In addition, we suspended our exploration in the Northern Territory, Australia.
Globally, we have land with exploration and development prospects that are among the best in the world, mainly in Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan and the US. Our land holdings total 1.0 million hectares (2.5 million acres). In northern Saskatchewan alone, we have direct interests in 640,000 hectares (1.6 million acres) of land covering many of the most prospective exploration areas of the Athabasca Basin.
Brownfield exploration is uranium exploration near our existing operations, and includes expenses for advanced exploration on the evaluation of projects where uranium mineralization is being defined.
In 2017, we spent about $10 million on brownfields and projects under evaluation in Saskatchewan and Australia. At Inkai and the US operations we spent $2 million.
We spent about $18 million on regional exploration programs (including support costs), primarily in Saskatchewan and, to a lesser extent, in Australia.
Planning for the future
We will continue to focus on our core projects in Saskatchewan under our long-term exploration strategy. Long-term, we look for properties that meet our investment criteria. We may partner with other companies through strategic alliances, equity holdings and traditional joint venture arrangements. Our leadership position and industry expertise in both exploration and corporate social responsibility make us a partner of choice.
Caution about Forward-Looking Information
Please click here for additional information about the assumptions applied in making the forward-looking statements on this page and the factors that could cause results to differ materially.