Mining industry’s biggest event
By: Mudeeha Yousaf

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The most coveted event in the world of mining brought together global and national leaders under one roof to celebrate the past year’s success, discuss its future and provide expertise for its advancement. Hosted by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), the annual convention used the Metro Toronto Convention Centre as its home for the four-day event starting March 4th, and promoted the interests of the mineral exploration and development industry as well as ensuring a vibrant and socially responsible sector.

Dating back to 1932, the PDAC show represents the most diverse mining show in the world, and this year’s convention was no exception. Not only a meeting ground for investor exchange exhibitors, CEO’s, executives and industry buffs, the show also addressed key issues affecting the industry and provided an array of seminars and key-note speakers to impart these matters. This year marked the first of which a sitting Prime Minister was present and attendees gathered intently to listen to Stephen Harper pledge his support for the struggling mining industry. Harper, and incoming PDAC president Rod Thomas, took before 400 delegates for a Q&A session and discussed all quandaries — speaking of everything from new infrastructure projects in remote regions, the federal governments recently announced $14 billion infrastructure fund, and efforts to improve First Nations relations affected by projects close to their communities. “Governments in Canada have been slow to recognize the era in which we are now living. This is a systemic challenge and a systemic problem,” Harper told the conference.

The 82nd PDAC Show harboured 30, 000 attendees – an upward hike from last year’s modest 28, 000 attendees – and was alive and active. Booths exhibiting investors, service providers, financial consultants, junior minors, prospectors and associations filled the capacity and spectators enthusiastically hovered from booth to booth.

The set-up of the conference was divided according to province and showcased the strengths of each area. Reporting from Newfound Land’s active industry that boasts two gold mines and a nickel mine, David Hicks, a local Prospector, reports that it is “a province where there is still a lot of room to explore.” There are close to 300 prospectors in the province which ranks nine for its mineral exploration in the world. “We’re the front end. We go out and open our minds. Prospectors can prove the geologists wrong.” Saskatchewan exhibited its provinces rich economy filled of uranium, gold and oil & gas, as well as British Columbia’s high density of junior exploration companies which represents 90 percent of the market. Robert Dyke, Chairman of Wink Vibrance Drill Company in Vancouver showcased their new man-portable drill system for soil sampling for environmental and exploration needs. “We want to gain international exposure. Vancouver is so local, but this show allows for a global presence and a lot more interest.”

Global players also took advantage of the conference by showcasing their mining activities around the world. Chairman of Argentina-based Alto Americas, Guillermo Re Kuhl, has been participating in the event since 1996 to showcase his company’s latest activities and connect with other industry leaders. “Mining in Argentina is a new concept, different from Peru or Chile. It’s a cattle and crop country with mining on the side and only represents four percent of our GDP.” These international companies – from Africa, Asia and South America – are keen on edging their way into the Canadian markets, and showcased their products, services and abilities proudly.

Always of importance to the mining community is issues of environmental-consciousness, and many companies outlined their practices in leaving a lower environmental footprint. “Sustainability goes beyond being comfortable with the environment. You have to think of it in a global context and know that your project will have both positive and negative impacts, but that a good balance is needed,” says Julianne Hanson of Foth Canada Corporation.

As the mining sector tries to bounce back from its previous downturns, the positive perceptions generated throughout the PDAC Show are helping the industry expand and improve. It is for this reason that those from abroad and within national markets retreat to such conferences, and why the Toronto convention is the largest of its kind in the world.

For more information on the PDAC, visit www.pdac.ca