Prices of iron ore and nickel reached all-time highs this year, and prices for other key metals have been going strong for five years, driven in part by limited supplies and increased demand from the booming economies of China and India. Copper climbed to its highest price of $4 a pound in 2006, and is currently staying steady at $2.50 a pound. Global demand for aluminum grew 7% in 2006 and is expected to grow 7.5% this year. The stocks of many of the top metal ores companies are also at all-time highs, including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold and Southern Copper. Exploration budgets in 2006 reached a record of $7.5 billion and should attain new highs in 2007. In 2006, Latin America had the largest share of exploration budgets with 24%, followed by Canada and Africa, with 19% and 16%, respectively. Experts in the industry believe that metal ore supplies will remain limited and that a production boost will require increased capital spending.

Source: Investor’s Business Daily

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