The amount of money companies spent exploring and developing mineral properties in the North dropped by a combined 22 per cent last year, according to revised estimates released Wednesday by Natural Resources Canada.
The activities covered in the survey include both the work done to discover new deposits as well as work done to take already discovered projects to the production stage.
Nationally, spending on projects declined by seven per cent in 2014.
But the Northwest Territories saw a 32-per-cent increase in spending, to $103 million. It was the only territory to see a year-over-year increase in 2014.
With many companies exploring land near N.W.T.'s existing three diamond mines, diamond projects accounted for nearly two thirds of the spending in N.W.T. Proposed expansions of the Ekati and Diavik mines likely also accounted for part of N.W.T.'s uptick.
In Yukon, spending dropped by 13 per cent to $88 million. Unlike the years 2011 and 2012 — when gold exploration dominated — more than half of spending in 2014 went to base metals projects such as the lead-zinc Selwyn project, which is owned by Chihong Mining.
Spending declined by 43 per cent in Nunavut, to $148 million.
Junior exploration companies accounted for 56 per cent of spending in the North.