Onsite at the PDAC
by: Sunjay Mathuria
This year, Toronto’s largest annual mining convention brought minerals and expertise from places as far off as China and Nigeria. Thousands of exchange investors, CEOs, business executives, and mining industry specialists flooded the Metro Convention Centre in early March for the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) International Convention, Trade Show, and Investors Exchange. The PDAC conference took place from March 3 to March 6 and hosted a plethora of mining companies and investors — from large-scale to small-scale. According to a PDAC news release, the goal of the convention is not necessarily to increase the number of participants every year. Rather, the goal is to retain the quality of the show and create a space of networking and education with technical sessions and short courses.
The PDAC has represented the interests of the Canadian mineral exploration and development industry since 1932, hosting the PDAC convention annually. In the early 1990’s, the PDAC grew to become an international affair, and became a global networking opportunity for anyone involved in the mining industry. There are currently 7 684 individual members of the PDAC, which include prospectors, developers, geoscientists, and consultants and 1 081 corporate members, which includes senior, mid-size, and junior mining companies. Over the past five years, the PDAC has focused much of its resources on the association’s role in the international mining community and this is evident in what the PDAC convention has become today.
The convention has been hailed as one of the most diverse mining shows in the world, hosting companies and exhibitors that mine for gold, uranium, manganese, silver, copper, and the list goes on. Last year, the PDAC saw over 30,000 attendees, representing countries from nearly every continent. This year, there were around 1,000 exhibitors in total; 410 for the Trade Show and 580 for the Investors Exchange, plus Prospectors Tent and Core Shack exhibitors. This year, at the 81st PDAC convention, the turnout is said to have matched last year’s.
Monday morning, the second day of the convention, was bustling with activity. In the Investor’s Exchange room and the Trade Show, companies set up booth to showcase their achievements, assets, and most importantly, why investors should consider investing in their company. According to the PDAC website, the Investors Exchange “attracts companies seeking opportunities for business development, joint ventures, property acquisitions and financing.” Exhibitors at the Investors Exchange included: exploration companies, mid-size producers, mining companies, and brokers and financial institutions with mining interests. Who are they speaking to? Banking executives, brokers and analysts, mining executives, fund managers, and government representatives, to name a few. At the booths and stalls, investor relations representatives busily chatted with passersby about what their company has to offer to the mining industry. Thousands of exhibitors and companies have travelled to Toronto for the week to garner support and excitement for their mining and development expeditions. In particular, junior companies have been working hard trying to attract the support of hesitant investors. Once you are finished perusing through the Investors Exchange, the PDAC also organizes a number of corporate presentations and presentations about mining-related activities from around the world. Monday and Tuesday’s presentations included highlights from the international scene: exploration highlights in Greenland, how to avoid mining legal jams, and Germany’s role in the mineral resources markets.
The Aboriginal program and presentations have also been key facets of the convention, exploring ways of building relationships with communities and respecting agreements and expectations. This includes talks on Building Aboriginal Capacity for Economic Independence and examining company-community agreements in the mineral sector.
You are also never too young to learn about geosciences and the mining industry: the PDAC convention hosted Mining Matters, a charity that educates students and teachers about the industry and the importance of mineral resources. Groups of school-aged children donning “Mining Matters” t-shirts got a chance to experience the show themselves, as they roamed the PDAC convention grounds alongside thousands of suited-up executives and investors. Back in the classroom, a room booked at the convention, students get hands-on experience with various minerals. Science and social sciences teachers were invited to bring their students to this event to help engage students of various ages and promote mining-based career opportunities. The program offers in-class workshops for students and educators, as well as community-based summer camps. The Mining Matters program is yet another way the PDAC has been engaging with youth and marginalized communities to build interest and employment in the ever-growing industry of mining exploration and development. Certainly, some of these youth will be the ones wearing the suits and ties in the years to come.
Every year, the PDAC convention becomes a meeting place for investor exchange exhibitors, CEOs, industry specialists, and executives to gather, network and share ideas. The four-day convention is not only about what is happening in the industry right now, but it’s a chance to learn more about the industry from various perspectives and obtain new skills. Through the PDAC’s short courses and workshops, members and non-members assemble to educate themselves with classes such as new concepts for ore shoot targeting and high impact communications quickly becoming sold out. And you don’t want to leave the PDAC without attending a few of the technical sessions. At the technical sessions, you can hear the experiences of industry experts and your peers on next and best practices. The sessions allow delegates to listen to expert’s views and gain timely insights that be utilized right away. From risks and rewards in mining development to financing in a volatile market, the technical sessions cover the scary and sometimes unstable side of the mining industry. But it ends on a high note with a talk on the “Ring of Fire” in Ontario, about unlocking potential in the land and creating opportunity.
As PDAC membership continues to grow and the industry continues to boom, it is almost certain next year’s convention will be an even bigger success. We look forward to more developments and even more exciting and timely mining projects. See you all in 2014!