Natural Resources Canada says mining companies have spent almost $159 million on exploration in the Northwest Territories this year.

That’s a 46 per cent jump from last year.

“We're really pleasantly surprised to see that the N.W.T. has a turn around and we are seeing more expenditures projected for here,” says Tom Hoefer of the NWT/Nunavut Chamber of Mine. “We have been in a lull and we have been languishing for over the last five years compared to the rest of the world, and compared to our neighbours, so to see an increase is quite exciting.”

Natural Resources Canada attributes the increase to projects in the later stages of exploration.

That's when companies spend large amounts of money on bulk sampling, environmental impact assessments, consultations and getting the permits they need to build a mine.

While the jump is good news, this year's numbers are nowhere near the 2007 boom, when companies spent $194 million on exploration.

The Department of Natural Resources says it's still collecting surveys from mining companies about their activity this year.

It will have a full picture of just how much they spent next March, as well as the forecast for 2014.