Miners and investors are poring over satellite images, tracking drilling rigs and quizzing company executives for clues on whether the sector’s heavyweights are close to a new jackpot discovery. As Rio Tinto Group searches Australia’s Great Sandy Desert for copper and Anglo American scours a 19,000km² package of land in Brazil, they are among the mining giants stoking excitement over potential reserves that will replenish project pipelines and overturn the industry’s lack of recent success in unearthing deposits. It is part of a broader global push across the industry that is driving a revival in exploration spending on key metals, forecast to top $11bn after hitting a low of about $9bn in 2016, according to Melbourne-based MinEx Consulting. To keep tabs on progress, investors in July pressed Anglo CEO Mark Cutifani for details on his company’s campaign, while others are monitoring traffic shuttling in and out of Rio’s expanding project in the Paterson district in Western Australia,...

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