Excessive global expansion by North American mining companies over the past several years has exposed companies to unnecessary risks and large, unexpected losses. In search of more stable political environments, companies are returning home to Ontario and Quebec, while places like Washington state, California and Oregon are attracting new investment for the first time in decades. Global expansion for larger mining companies was initially driven by a need to diversify into different sales markets and financial regimes; however, for many companies the drive was the lure of mineral wealth in less-explored, but risky, countries. This trend pervaded the sector, and with numerous failures, many companies are now licking their wounds. Prior to writing down billions of dollars in losses, many North American mining companies were actively exploring and acquiring mineral properties in parts of Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa and South America that turned out to be very unfavorable for mining investment. Canadian miners including Goldcorp (TSX: G,NYSE:GG), Kinross Gold (TSX: K,NYSE:KGC) and Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX,NYSE:ABX) are good examples of the North American mining sector's rapid global expansion. Barrick was drawn to Zambia by expectations of large ore deposits and low operating costs. However, a royalty rate hike by the Zambian government triggered a monstrous $4.2-billion writedown on its Lumwana mine. A few months ago, Barrick announced another $2.8-billion writedown for two mines that will be sold. One of the mines to be sold is the large Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea. Even though Porgera produced nearly 500,000 ounces for Barrick in 2014, it was plagued with violence and hostility. Barrick has reported that it is refocusing on its Nevada projects, where it expects to get the best return. Kinross acquired the Fruta del Norte deposit in Ecuador in 2008. After a long battle with the Ecuadorian government, Kinross divested the project at a loss of nearly a billion dollars. Losses at Fruta del Norte are estimated to be equivalent to the profits yielded by the company's Buckhorn deposit in Washington state over the same period of time. Kinross' Kupol project is a large, high-grade, low-cost producer — a miner's dream, with the exception that it is in Russia. Until President Putin ceases his imperial aggression, sanctions, political uncertainty and a volatile ruble add major risks to this project. Even with recent improvements to the Russian economy, it would be a good bet that Kinross is mining its Russian deposits as fast as possible to get as much ore out while it can.